Have you ever had this problem? You open your electricity bill at the end of the month and it feels too high. You remember to turn lights off when you leave a room, don’t run the AC too low or the heat too high. So, what’s the problem?
Surprisingly, there are a lot of devices in your own home that are sucking up power even when they’re not in use. These are the culprits driving up your electric bill right under your nose, but they don’t have to.
Here are the biggest vampire appliances, and what you can do to keep them from sucking up more power than they really need.
1. Phone and laptop chargers
These items take the top place when it comes to wasting energy. Our chargers are so vital that they end up plugged in all over. You need one in the kitchen, bedroom, home office and for some, even the bathroom. They don’t get used all the time, but you need them handy. However, chargers use energy even when they’re not charging.
You should definitely keep chargers in all the usual spots, but rather than have them always at the ready, only plug them in when they’re in use. As you go to pick up your phone, or start working on your laptop, unplug the charger too. Leave it near the outlet, but create a habit of unplugging it when you’re not using it.
2. Video game consoles and cable boxes
If you total up all the cable boxes and/or gaming consoles you have plugged in around your house, what’s the total? For many households it’s a lot. This includes the charging bases for portable gaming systems too. They all guzzle energy even when you’re not using them. And, if you think about how long they’re not in use over an average day, they most likely spend more time idle than in use.
Walking through your home and unplugging everything each time you’re ready to leave the house though isn’t efficient. It’s not something that’s easy to remember and can take up valuable time. A way around this is to plug as many of these devices into a single power strip as you can. Then, all you have to do to save some power is flip the power strip off. Simple and easy.
3. Computers and televisions
Both of these devices keep using energy when they’re off, but the biggest opportunity they have for stealing power is when they slip into screensaver mode. This seems like a harmless way to go low-power before shutting off, but all the while, the device is using electricity it doesn’t need because you’re no longer using the device.
To save a little energy, skip this step and turn off your devices when you’re not using them. Even closing your laptop when you walk away, instead of just leaving it open, reduces energy waste.
The other way to limit wasted electricity is to unplug your laptop when it’s fully charged. Let it run on its battery rather than staying plugged in all the time. For the TV, unplugging it when you’re going out of town, and you know it won’t get used for a longer period of time, most definitely reduces unwanted energy use.
4. Coffee makers
It’s hard to think of this staple item as an energy stealer, but any device that’s always plugged in is always using at least a little energy. If you’re not someone who has their coffee brewing on a timer, unplug it when it’s not in use. It’ll go from taking in energy all day long to only a few minutes each day.
If you need to program that coffee maker to brew you a fresh cup of coffee as you’re waking up in the morning, it’s totally okay (and understandable). To save energy in this case, consider unplugging the appliance during the day, after you’ve enjoyed all that caffeinated goodness.
Because of the digital display on most microwaves, they’re always using power, even when you don’t need them to. This appliance is a great example of an electronic vampire you can’t always unplug or shut down. However, there’s a way to address the issue of wasted energy, at least a little.
With appliances like this, buying Energy Star brands automatically helps reduce energy use. If you find one that has a low power mode as well, even better. Make sure to engage that when you’re out of the house during the day and traveling.
Stop those electricity vampires
Often, when thinking about sustainable living, we focus on things impacting the environment outside, like our cars. Making sure to fuel up responsibly is an impactful and wonderful strategy, but within the home, there are plenty of appliances and devices using power when not in use. For these electricity vampires, the most environmentally-conscious thing you can do is not ignore them. Make sure you’re running all your appliances as efficiently as possible, and don’t hesitate to adjust items, or even unplug them, when you’re not at home. These little changes will make a big impact when that next electric bill comes due.