I always look forward to fall and winter because it inevitably means that my electric bill goes down drastically. For instance, when I opened our bill this month, a huge smile spread across my face because I noted that it was over seventy dollars less than the previous month. (Of course, as winter arrives and we use the fireplace more, our gas bill will go up, but that’s the tradeoff, I suppose.) However, even though our energy bills over the summer were rather high, I did notice that there was a slight downturn even in the middle of the summer—thanks to my vanquishing of the so-called “energy vampires.”
I had heard on our local news that leaving appliances plugged in was a serious waste of electricity, but I had never taken this seriously. I mean, really? I was supposed to unplug the toaster every time I used it? But then when I did my research, it was to my surprise that I learned that pretty much everything that you leave plugged in is an energy drain, even when not in use. I glanced around and saw an entire host of electronics just sucking away my precious money. Cell phone chargers. Video game consoles. My laptop. My toaster oven. The list literally went on.
Then I discovered this frightening statistic: Apparently 40% of the total energy consumed by home electronics is used when the appliance is turned off. So my crockpot, which was sitting oh-so-innocently on my counter with its plug in the outlet was actually stealthily sneaking away precious electricity, and I was paying for it?
This is an easy way to go green, but I think we get so caught up in everyday life that it doesn’t always occur to us to unplug the crockpot, or the toaster, or even our laptops. The fact is, though, that everything that is plugged in is using electricity, and while some of this can’t be helped, there are easy ways to minimize the total amount of electricity consumed. Setting your computer to “hibernate” or “sleep mode” uses about 95% less electricity than allowing it to run on full power. While a lot of machines do this automatically now, some don’t, so be sure to check your settings.
Power strips are also a great way to easily save some electricity, as you can plug all of your electronics into them and turn them off all at once. For instance, in my house we have the TV, DVR, and Wii all on the same strip—and it’s easy to turn on and off when we use all three of these.
A handy rule of thumb to remember is that if it has a clock, a light, or any other sort of luminescence protruding from it, then your appliance is using electricity. Unplugging most of these only takes a moment, and it saves you in the long run.