How Much Money Do You Save by Unplugging?

The humble power strip can save you money.

The humble power strip can save you money.

Surprisingly, even once you turn appliances and electronics off, they may still be sucking up extra watts. Unplugging many of those items that aren't in use will save you money, and those savings can definitely make the extra effort worthwhile.

How Much?

Of course, how much you save depends on the number and type of appliances you leave plugged in. Leaving 1 LCD TV, 2 5ube TVs, 1 DVR, 3 cable boxes, 1 cable modem and 1 audio system plugged in all year, for instance, will cost an extra $90.89, assuming you're paying $12.5 cents per kWh. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, phantom loads, also known as "energy vampires," add about 10 percent to your electric bill. If you're paying $100 a month for your electricity, that's $10 a month, or $120 per year, that you could put toward something more productive than leaving your toaster plugged in.


Some items are much bigger culprits than others in causing this phantom electricity drain. You’ll save next to nothing by unplugging your coffee maker or microwave. But your TV, cordless power tools, audio systems and cable box all pull appreciable amounts of power in the off position. Many manufacturers now give details of the standby power used by devices. When you replace an appliance or gadget, look for one with low standby power.


If you want to implement an unplugging regimen that saves you money in the most efficient way, you can find out exactly which appliances are the biggest source of loss. You can buy a power usage monitor -- a gadget that plugs into the wall between your appliance and the power source and gives you a readout on how much electricity it’s using. Take an inventory of the electronics that are draining power at the fastest rate and prioritize them in your unplugging routine.

Making It Easy

A little preparation can make your unplugging campaign a lot simpler. You can invest in switches that plug into your sockets. These will cut the power to that socket when you flick the switch. Or you can plug multiple devices -- perhaps your TV and sound system -- into a power strip, and flip the switch on that each night, turning off several things at once. For cell phones, look for new energy-efficient chargers that automatically cut power to the charger when you unplug the phone. You can also now purchase plugs that connect to an app that you can switch on and on using your phone.


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