Do you ever wonder which electronics you should and should not unplug for saving electricity? For example, does it make sense, from an energy-saving perspective, to unplug the refrigerator before leaving for work? Likewise, what about computers, toasters, lamps, TVs, clocks, washers, dryers, and the rest?
What are the benefits of disconnecting some things when you are not going to use them for a while? For one thing, you can save money. Second, there is the problem of surges. If an electrical appliance is unplugged, an over voltage cannot damage it. It simply makes sense, then, to reduce waste in terms of energy use. Finally, while saving electricity in your home, it will also reduce the risk of a short circuit, which can be a fire hazard.
Saving Energy Tips
The following energy-saving tips will help you keep utility bills as low as possible:
- Start in the Kitchen: Most kitchens contain more appliances than any other room in the house, so it makes sense to start here. Note, however, there are three appliances you should not disconnect: refrigerator, oven, dishwasher. These appliances typically include plugs that are concealed for safety purposes and are designed to consume tiny amounts of electricity per hour. When dishwashers are not in use, their energy consumption is practically null. The same goes for stoves and ranges. Refrigerators consume a bit more energy just because they have a job to do: keep food cold to keep it from spoiling.
- Unplug Small Appliances: The microwave, coffee-maker, blender, and food processor can easily be unplugged when not in use. People typically remember to unplug these appliances but tend to leave microwave ovens plugged in. That might be because most microwaves have a digital clock display. Unless you don’t have a kitchen clock, go ahead and unplug your microwave oven when it is not in use.
- Laptops and Desktops: Computers, desktop monitors, printers, laptops connected to the wall, and modems should be disconnected when not in use. That means not only at night when you retire but during the day when you are not actively using them. A good rule of thumb: Almost everything connected to your computer will consume power unless it is disconnected. So, if you are one of the millions of people who have computers in various places in your home, keep an eye on those electrical outlets and disconnect whatever is not in use.
- Chargers: Phone and laptop chargers need to be unplugged when you are not using them to actively charge up a device. Once the device is at a “100 percent” charge, unplug the charger. These are among the biggest energy vampires in your home.
- Entertainment Items: DVR, game consoles, speakers, and standard TVs can be disconnected. However, if you have connected them to a power strip (see below), then there is no need to disconnect. Simply click on the power strip control to “turn off.” The point is this: Most of the entertainment devices are large consumers of energy and will continue to consume electricity even if they are not turned on. Therefore, use a power strip or unplug the devices when you are not enjoying the entertainment they provide to your life.
- Power Strips: It is not necessary to disconnect power strips as long as you remember to click on their switches in the “off” position when you are not using any of the elements connected to them. These practical devices are excellent for cutting off the vampire energy waste that drains from your system if you leave something like a computer connected to the power outlet. Whatever is connected to the smart power strip will stop using electricity when you put the switch on the power strip to “off.” But leave the power strip connected to the wall.
What’s Okay to Leave Plugged In? Most modern appliances are energy hogs. Older, simpler devices like pop-up toasters are not. You can usually tell if a particular device is an energy vampire if it has a digital display of any kind, like a clock, on it. But you’re safe to leave old toasters plugged in, as well as older blenders, coffee-makers, and other items that do not have digital displays.However, for newer coffee-makers, blenders, and high-tech toaster that have digital displays, unplug them when they’re not in use.
How to Be Sure: If you have dozens of electrical appliances in your home, old and new, you won’t always be sure if they are energy guzzlers. Hardware stores typically carry watt meters, which cost around $25. Simply plug the meter into the wall and then plug an appliance into the meter. The digital display will show you exactly how much power the given item consumes when it is not in use. With a watt meter, you can easily evaluate all your appliances and decide which ones are worth disconnecting during periods of inactivity.
Putting It All Together
Many goals are associated with energy-saving behavior. In addition to cutting down on annual utility expenses, you’ll be doing a good deed for the planet in terms of waste reduction. Plus, you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that many of your appliances are protected against significant damage created by power surges. Saving electricity at home means saving money and being a good citizen. As long as you follow the energy-saving tips above, you will not have to wonder about what items to unplug and which ones to leave connected.