Unplug your “energy vampires” to save on electricity bills: TVs, computers and more

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There are moochers living in your house. Some of your appliances and electronics spend all day siphoning off precious energy that you’ll have to pay for even when you’re not using those devices. As long as they are plugged in, they increase your energy bill.

We call these “energy vampires”. And you may not know it, but they can really be a strain on your wallet. The average home sees around 10% of its total energy use going to energy vampires, meaning it’s energy that simply doesn’t need to be used. This can cost you a considerable sum: $250 or more, depending on where you are.

Let’s take a look around your home and find these energy vampires so you can unplug them, replace them, and save yourself excess charges on your monthly energy bill.

Computer equipment

Do you have a desktop computer installed in your home? Whether playing, working, or just browsing the internet, your tall tower and all of its accessories are likely sucking up a lot of excess power, even when not in use.

According to data from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Sleep Project, run by the Department of Energy, a desktop computer can cost more than $23 a year to stay plugged in and run in sleep mode. The monitor adds an extra $1.53 per year on average, and the modem or router brings in almost $7 per year.

That doesn’t sound like a lot on its own, but it’s not hard to see how quickly it adds up. Even a basic computer setup can cost upwards of $30 a year – and that’s just one machine. Your house is full of electronic devices guilty of the same energy vampire activity.

Televisions and decoders

Another big energy consumer is sitting in your living room. Televisions can cost more than $20 a year in excess energy consumption if left plugged in while turned off. LEDs tend to be more energy efficient than LCDs or plasmas if you’re looking to cut costs.

Even worse is the set-top box you use to watch all your favorite shows. Digital set-top boxes such as those provided by your cable company will likely cost you close to $50 a year if you keep them plugged in all the time. Other set-top boxes like Apple TV tend to be a bit more power efficient. But if you have cable, you’ll have a hard time escaping this energy-sucking box.

Speakers and sound systems

Speaking of entertainment…if you have a home stereo system, it probably uses a lot of power. Audio systems can consume close to $10 a year when left plugged in, and audio input devices like CD players or record players can add $5 or more. Subwoofers and audio receivers also tend to suck up a lot of power when not in use, so consider unplugging your audio setup when you’re not messing around.

How to Identify Common Energy Vampires in Your Home

While some appliances and devices are more efficient than others, there are a few things to watch out for if you don’t want one that will suck up a lot of excess energy.

Any device with an external power supply likely consumes more power than expected, even when turned off. Likewise, devices that use a remote control are often energy vampires because they are always on and waiting for input. Anything that has a continuous display — the clock in your microwave or a screen saver on your TV or computer, for example — is also always consuming power.

Take a look around your home for these devices and decide if they really need to be plugged in at all times. There’s a convenience factor involved, but the extra step of plugging and unplugging your device could save you a lot of money over time. Plus, it’s good for the planet, and he could use every little bit of help you can provide.


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