Tonight, take a tour through your house with all the lights out. See all those digital clocks and glowing red and green “eyes” staring back at you? That’s proof positive your household appliances are sucking energy and spending your money, even when you’re asleep.
Transformers that continuously recharge your cellphone, power your computer peripherals and keep your Nintendo Switch ready to go are energy guzzlers. TVs and monitors use energy both when they are on and when they are off.
The typical cable box draws 28 watts when it is on and recording a show and 26 watts when it is off and not recording anything. Even if you never watched TV, it would still consume about 227 kilowatt-hours annually. That’s more than the average person in Kenya or Cambodia uses in an entire year, according to a New York Times story.
According to Berkeley Lab, a typical American home has 40 products constantly drawing power. Together these amount to almost 10% of residential electricity use.
A device that has an instanton power feature draws about 1 watt of electricity per hour when the device is off. Granted, that is not a huge amount of power, but multiply by the number of devices you have in your home, and soon, it adds up to something significant. Televisions, DVD players, CD players, cameras, battery chargers, hair trimmers, powered toothbrushes, power tools, flashlights that you plug into the wall to recharge -- any device that continues showing a light or clock when turned off has a standby feature.
So, what should you do to plug this drain on your money? When your cordless devices are fully charged, take them out of the charger to stop the needless draw of power.
Unplug televisions and any appliances that are not used at least once every 48 hours. Turn off computers, devices, printers and peripherals at the end of the day and any other time you will be away for more than four hours. All of these items are major offenders in standby mode, but turning them off and on many times during the day is even worse.
When you leave a room, turn the lights off, unless you plan to return within 10 minutes. If you have a second refrigerator that’s more than 10 years old, it is probably costing more to run than the stuff it chills. Get rid of it.
In the kitchen, always select the smallest appli ance that will do the job, e.g., the toaster oven over the big oven; the slow cooker over the stovetop; the microwave over the toaster oven, regular oven or stovetop. Items that create heat, such as irons, toasters and hair dryers, use a lot more electricity than nonheating items. Make sure they are turned off when not in use.
Want to give yourself a raise? Start plugging all the places electricity is leaking out of your life so you can keep some of the money you’ve been sending to your electric company in your pocket!
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”