Energy-wasting appliances are a huge drain on your bank account. Even if your appliances are turned off, they can still draw power and raise your energy bill. “Vampire power”— the power drawn by an appliance when it’s plugged in, even if it’s turned off — can cost you as much as $100 per year, according to Energy Star.
Here are some of the appliances you’re going to want to unplug:
Kitchen appliances: This is the biggest offender you can easily do something about. How much do you really use your toaster, coffee maker, and the like? Even if you use them daily, they’re not being actively used most of the time,and they’re drawing power all the time they’re not in use. They don’t draw as much power when not in use, but it can still add up very quickly when you’re not paying attention.
Lights: While fluorescent lights and LEDs are much more power efficient than incandescent bulbs of the past, they still draw power when they’re not used. They should at least be turned off when you’re not using them. That should save enough power, but you’ll save even more money by unplugging lamps when not in use if they’re not used frequently.
Large electronics: Unless you’ve shut it off completely, desktop computers, game consoles, and TVs (to name a few) are going to draw a significant amount of power in standby mode. They’ll still draw some when plugged in but not turned on, so if you’re really trying to make a difference, unplug them when not in use.
Window AC unit/space heater: These two are essential when you need them, but also power hogs. At the least, they should be unplugged when out of season (you really don’t need AC in the dead of winter, so why would you leave it plugged in?). Ideally, you should unplug them whenever they’re switched off.
Here are some other frequent offenders that you’ll need to manage more carefully (you really don’t want to unplug them completely):
Fridge/freezer: Make sure they’re not set colder than you need them. It takes a lot of energy to pump the warmth out of an enclosed space, so don’t make your fridge or freezer go through the effort of cooling things more than needed. It’s not quite vampire power like the rest, but it’ll make an impact on your electric bill regardless.
Water heater: It takes a lot of energy to heat up water, so you’re going to want to use warm or hot water only when you need to. Check if you really need to wash your clothes in hot water, and don’t run unnecessary loads in the dishwasher as first steps towards using less hot water.
Central heat and air conditioning: You should never be feeling too cold in the summer or too warm in the winter. Change the thermostat to stay at a relatively comfortable temperature. Keeping the temperature lower in the winter and warmer in the summer will save you some cash if you’re willing to deal with the discomfort to save a bit more.
If you’re having trouble with unplugging things all the time, you can make it easier using power strips. Plug several items (for example, your TV and video game consoles, or coffee maker and toaster in the kitchen) in to the same power strip, and now you don’t have to unplug them. Just flip the switch on the power strip whenever you’re not using them and flip it back on when you need them again.
Leave sticky notes to remind yourself to turn off appliances and you can use the money you save toward groceries, a plane ticket or a new smartphone. How will you use your extra cash?
A.D. Thompson spent the first half of her 25-year career behind the editor’s desk, including time at Playgirl Magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Orlando Sentinel and a host of other publications, print and online. Now a full-time freelancer, she is the Orlando expert for USA Today’s 10Best.com and writes about everything from Mickey Mouse to marijuana-based tourism with equal levels of enthusiasm – and occasional bouts of the munchies.