Unplug devices to save energy and money

Do you keep your electronic devices plugged in even when you’re not using them? Did you know that turning them off doesn’t stop them from consuming electricity?

It’s true. TVs, satellite receivers, DVRs, gaming consoles, and other electronics are still drawing power when they’re not in use. 

This energy use calculator helps you figure how much it costs
to power your individual appliances and electronics.

We’re definitely a plugged-in society. Appliances and electronics account for 60 percent of the residential electricity used, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That number has tripled in the past 30 years.

Americans own about 25 electronic devices and homes with Internet service have an average of seven connected devices, the consumer electronics industry estimates. Most of these devices are using a constant stream of power even when not in use.

Walkthrough your home at night, and you’ll see the red and green lights of appliances and the glow of digital clocks. Sometimes called “energy vampires,” these devices use more electricity than you might think. They are responsible for 5 percent of all the energy used in the United States and cost consumers more than $3 billion every year.

The U.S. Department of Energy offers some simple ways to cut this energy use. One of the easiest is to unplug your mobile phone charger after the phone has full power. When your phone is fully charged and still connected, 2.24 watts of electricity are being used. Even after you disconnect your phone, the idle charger draws .26 watts. 

Use these tips from energy.gov to reduce the hidden costs caused by energy vampires in your home. 

  • Unplug. Unplug. Unplug. This won’t work for your cable box or wireless router, which always need power. But if you have an extra TV or another electronic device that you don’t use often, consider unplugging it completely until the next time you use it. This applies to phone chargers too. As soon as your phone has full power, unplug the charger from the wall.
  • Plug electronics into power strips, which let you toggle the power flow on and off. This means you can control the power use of clusters of devices so that they’re not consuming electricity when you’re not home. Using a light switch that turns power outlets on and off, if you have one, accomplishes the same end with even less effort. An advanced power strip makes it even easier by turning off idle electronics without any additional steps from you.
  • Curb idle time. Simply setting your computer to sleep mode or stopping a game and powering down your video game console instead of leaving it paused for a prolonged period, could lead to bigger savings.
  • Make smart upgrades. When it comes time to send your old electronics and appliances to the graveyard, consider replacing them with Energy Star devices. They have a lower standby consumption than your average device and use less energy all around. You can use this energy use calculator to estimate how much energy it takes to power your electronics and appliances throughout the year and identify even more savings opportunities.