Simple Savings: Unplug everything.

21 - Unplug everything.

Today’s saving strategy is one we’ve all heard about, but much like the cold water laundry issue, have probably wondered how much we’re really saving. Unplug things to save money. The savings vary depending on what and how much you unplug, but I can safely promise that when you do unplug things, you will save. Here are some facts to support that statement.

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  • According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), the average home contains 40 products constantly drawing power. These sleeping devices may account for as much as 10 percent of household energy use.
  • According to the LBL, laptop computers and cable boxes (particularly cable boxes with DVRs) are among the worst phantom power offenders, drawing an average of 9 watts and 44 watts in “off” mode, respectively.
  • According to the Energy Star Web site, the average U.S. household spends more than $100 each year to power devices that are turned off.

For more information on this topic, I encourage you to read the money article on How Stuff Works that explores the question “How much can you save by unplugging?” The ultimate suggestion to find out specifics is to rent / borrow a Kill-a-Watt reader. Fortunately, the Allen County Library recently began renting them out, compliments of our Indiana Michigan Power company.

I checked one out the other week to see what I would learn. I didn’t have time to test many appliances, but I did test two different key appliances. First, I figured out the $0.115 is our cost per kWh. (To see your cost, get a copy of your recent utility bill and divide the total dollar amount by the kWh used.) Then, I simply plugged the Kill-a-Watt reader into my wall and plugged the appliance into the reader. There were step-by-step instructions included with the reader that did make this process very simple.

I started by plugging in a power strip that plugs in our upstairs television and dvd player. I learned that without any use, it is costing us $0.02 a day or $0.19 a week and over $11 a year. That doesn’t seem like much day by day, but when you think we’re paying $11 for something to just sit there, it seems ridiculous!

Then, I tested my laptop and charger, which are almost constantly plugged in and powered on. I didn’t run that quite as long, but it also seemed to be costing me $0.02 a day, for another $11 a year. Just by unplugging these two devices when they aren’t in use, I’m saving us $22.

Using these numbers, and presuming I have the 40 phantom objects suggested by the LBL, I am paying over $100 – most likely nearly $200 a year – just in phantom energy costs. Knowing this, I am going to be much more intentional about unplugging things. I’ll follow with this disclaimer.

It would be a hassle to unplug my stove and reset my alarm clock each day. However, I easily unplug most lamps in my house as well as our cell phone chargers when they are not in use. I’m also going to turn off that TV power strip that I mentioned earlier to save money. I’m curious to keep using the Kill-a-Watt reader and see what other savings I could garner.

Here’s the challenge of today. Go around your house and see what you can quickly unplug that you don’t regularly use. Remember, every penny of phantom power saves. I’ll be curious to see our electric bill after a couple months of unplugging!

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