Have you ever wondered why the time still shows on your microwave, even when nothing is cooking? It's actually still on, in what is called standby mode. And it's using electricity around the clock.
Many of your appliances and electronics have a standby mode and draw electricity 24 hours a day, even after you turn them off. This phantom energy loss can account for 5 to 10 percent of your energy bill each month.
So what can you do to help reduce this wasted energy? First remember that the more devices you plug into your outlets, the more energy you'll use. When you're out shopping for a new appliance or electronic don't forget to factor in its energy use and try to choose the model that uses the least amount of electricity. ENERGY STAR® models are often a great buy because they use 50 percent less standby power.
Unplug what you're not using
For those devices you've already purchased, there's another simple solution – unplug what you're not using. It's easy to unplug toasters, coffee makers, and cell phone chargers when they're not in use. By doing so, you'll stop phantom energy loss in its tracks.
Get a smart strip
But we all know it doesn't make sense to unplug every appliance or electronic item. A smart or switchable power strip can be used for computers and home entertainment centers since these systems often have multiple electronics and might need to stay powered on to maintain settings.
These smart power strips detect when you are not using your TV or computer and automatically cuts off power. They have several "always on" slots for those devices that need to stay powered on, such as a DVR or fax machine.
Calculate your appliance costs - Use our calculator or worksheet to find out how much it costs to run many common household devices.