A.D. Thompson

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 its plugged in, even if its turned off can cost you as much as $100 per year, according to Energy Star.

Here are some of the appliances youre 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, theyre not being actively used most of the time,  and theyre drawing power all the time theyre not in use. They dont draw as much power when not in use, but it can still add up very quickly when youre 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 theyre not used. They should at least be turned off when youre not using them. That should save enough power, but youll save even more money by unplugging lamps when not in use if theyre not used frequently.
  • Large electronics: Unless youve 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. Theyll still draw some when plugged in but not turned on, so if youre 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 dont need AC in the dead of winter, so why would you leave it plugged in?). Ideally, you should unplug them whenever theyre switched off.

Here are some other frequent offenders that youll need to manage more carefully (you really dont want to unplug them completely):

  • Fridge/freezer: Make sure theyre not set colder than you need them. It takes a lot of energy to pump the warmth out of an enclosed space, so dont make your fridge or freezer go through the effort of cooling things more than needed. Its not quite vampire power like the rest, but itll make an impact on your electric bill regardless.
  • Water heater: It takes a lot of energy to heat up water, so youre 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 dont 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 youre willing to deal with the discomfort to save a bit more.

If youre 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 dont have to unplug them. Just flip the switch on the power strip whenever youre 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?




About The Author

A.D. Thompson

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.