Are you a conscientious consumer who turns off electronics, like your desktop or cellphone charger, every night in the hope of saving energy and money?
As admirable as your habit is, you may be surprised to learn all those appliances you turn “off” don’t actually power down when you flip the switch.
Most electronics continue to consume energy when they’re “off.” Why does this occur and what can you do about it? We’re here to answer these questions and help slash your energy bill.
Why do appliances stay on when powered off?
When certain appliances are powered off, but are still plugged into electrical outlets, they passively consume electricity. This is referred to as “phantom energy.” Most of these devices draw an insignificant amount of energy, but others, such as those listed here, suck a higher quantity of power, earning the title “energy vampires.”
Research shows when enough devices are plugged in, the standby power can swell to equate 20% of your electric bill. Here are some of the biggest contributors:
1. Chargers – Have you made it a habit to leave a charger or charging cable plugged in next to the couch or other convenient location? As handy as this practice is, the charger will continue to draw power. When your fully charged cellphone remains plugged into an outlet, it will continue to drain your home’s electricity.
2. Computers – Most of us don’t bother turning off our computers. Instead, we put them into sleep or hibernate mode. While these settings allow the computer to turn on quickly, it can be a drain on your electric bill. If your desktop has a monitor with a separate power supply, it too will consume energy while in this lower power mode.
3. Televisions – When you turn your TV off, do you notice its power light turns red? If so, this indicates your television is still sucking electricity. Note that most newer TVs have a listening feature that can automatically turn on by your voice or other devices, despite being “turned off.”
4. Streaming boxes – If you have a streaming box for your TV, any time you power it down it continues to use energy to record shows you’ve scheduled. The device further requires power so it can receive a signal from its remote at any given time.
5. Game consoles – Ever turn off your game console before completely shutting down your last session? Though keeping them on allows you to pick up where you left off, it requires the devices to remain powered. Of course, during any periods your gaming system is off, your console continues to perform tasks like installing software updates.
6. Printers – Do you turn off your printer at all? Or do you merely leave it in standby mode when you’re done using it for the day? This habit ensures your printer sucks up electricity at all times. If your printer is wireless, be aware it requires a higher amount of energy due to maintaining an active Wi-Fi signal, even when powered down.
How to reduce or stop energy vampires
Beyond the recommendation to unplug all devices when not in use — which is unrealistic — there are ways you can reduce and stop wasting electricity, including the use of energy star appliances, outlet timers, surge protectors and standby power killers.
Energy Star appliances – Energy Star is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that certifies devices that meet various energy efficiency standards. While using Energy Star appliances will not eliminate your phantom power issue, it will decrease energy consumed when your appliances are both on and off.
Outlet timers – The use of outlet timers, such as this handy mechanical model, will not stop powered-off appliances from sucking electricity; however, they can reduce power consumption by turning off devices and equipment that are left on by mistake or are in standby mode.
Surge protectors – Surge protectors and power strips have come a long way from protecting a few household appliances. Why not making turning off your office devices simple with a surge protector power strip that can accommodate a variety of outlet sizes and has USB ports for charging cables?
Plug all of your devices’ power cords into one surge protector to ensure when you turn the power strip off, your equipment’s energy pull is equivalent to that of unplugged devices.
Standby Power Killers – Equipment like your television should be unplugged to stop it from racking up some kilowatts on your energy bill; however, you can eliminate this type of phantom power by merely plugging your television into the TV Standby Killer. This device plugs into a standard wall outlet and uses an infrared sensor to determine when you turn off your TV using its remote. Once detected, your television is OFF, not in standby mode.
Don’t let energy vampires suck your home’s electricity. Get to unplugging your devices, install some power-saving gadgets and slash your energy usage.