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Save an easy $100 by unplugging these devices

Shave your electric bill by unplugging appliances and electrical devices when not in use; the cable box and DVR are standby-power hogs.

By Jun 6, 2014 12:16PM
This post comes from Emily Lugg at partner site on MSN MoneyJust because the TV is turned off doesn't mean it isn't consuming energy. Millions and millions of watts of "phantom energy" are used every day by unsuspecting electric customers like you and me. When the next utility bill arrives, think about how the family can save electricity.

Electrical plug © Jupiterimages, Getty ImagesThe Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory measured the watts consumed by various household appliances on a daily basis when they are plugged in but not in use. Multiplying the total kilowatt hours by the average cost of electricity (11 cents/kilowatt hour) for 20 common household products comes to nearly $100 for a 12-month period. In other words, you could save far more than pennies simply by unplugging electric devices and appliances that are just on standby.

Sure, there are energy-sucking appliances that would be impractical to unplug when inactive (the washer and dryer, for example) or would disrupt what is a necessary continuous service (the refrigerator, say, or electric alarm clock).

But consider this: More than $40-worth (40 percent) of phantom energy is eaten up by the digital cable box and DVR. If your routine calls for recording TV programs only in the evening, pull the cord before going to sleep and reconnect prior to the next recording session. If you have multiple cable boxes, disconnect them all until their services are needed. Here is a golden opportunity to save electricity.

Desktop computers raise similar issues. If the computer, excluding the monitor, is completely off but remains plugged in, the average annual cost of electricity is just $2.74. However, if "off" in your mind really means "idle," you could be spending more than $70 a year for the convenience of being able to jostle the computer awake with a swift shake of the mouse. Putting the computer into "sleep" mode is more energy efficient than leaving it to sit idly but still adds an average $20 a year to the electric bill.

Devices like the fax machine, CD player, and furnace only cost about $5 each for a 24/7 electric hook-up. Spending $1.52 a year to avoid having to plug and unplug my laser printer every time I need it seems like money well spent. I'm also willing to shell out small amounts to keep critical devices on standby: $1.49 for the DVD player, $1.09 for the computer monitor, and $1.10 for the coffeemaker.

The truth is it wouldn't take much to unplug these items when they're not in use. Many of us rarely use the printer, scanner, and home computer every day unless we work from home. And in most homes, the coffeemaker perks up just once daily. A little attentiveness to usage patterns and two seconds of action could yield measurable results in the form of lower outlays for electricity.

Start by unplugging the mobile phone and charger at the same time in the morning when grabbing the phone for the day. Do the same with the coffeemaker after your morning java, and completely turn off the computer when the tasks at hand are finished.

                                                                  20 common household products

Based on $0.11/kWh; 1 watt = 8.76kWh (kWh = kilowatt hour)
Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; calculations

Let us know how it's going. This energy calculator is a helpful resource.

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Jun 6, 2014 2:07PM
If you just cancel the cable or satellite subscription, you will save more and be rid of the "ask your doctor' ads that may cost your life.
Jun 6, 2014 5:45PM
As an electrician I can say the majority of these consumption figures are B.S.
Jun 6, 2014 10:56PM
Don't have a TV.  Seldom listen to the radio.  All my lights are flourescent .  I do have a computer but don't use it much and my screen shuts off when not in use.   My electric bill is not very large, but the additional charge for "services, taxes, fees,etc." sometimes exceed the charge for electricity.   The same goes for water and trash pick up services that used to be services provided by the city for real estate taxes paid.  
Jun 6, 2014 3:36PM
considering all the little things that are listed, it would be easier to just stop by the fuse box on the way out the door and cut the switch to everything except the refridgerator. I'd say to cut the master switch..but gotta keep the food fresh.
Jun 6, 2014 11:09PM
And don't waste any power looking at msn.
Jun 6, 2014 3:34PM

I think I'll pay $100 a year to keep things plugged up and not have to deal with reboot times.


Come up with a way to knock off $100 a month, then we'll talk.  (PROTIP . . . don't use HVAC and dry clothes on a line, it'll save much more.  Turn off the fridge, AC, and laundry machines, and use candles and your power bill will be virtually nothing.)

Jun 6, 2014 3:57PM
A savings of $8.33 per month in electricity costs do not even come close to offsetting the increase in my health insurance premium of a little more than $104 per month due to the ACA mandate, and the increase in food prices.
this is a typical idea the tree huggers are always pushing, then if you want to use the stuff you have to wait 20 minutes for it to reboot and then reset the clocks.
Jun 6, 2014 4:40PM
All that BS for $100???  If I was that hard up I would get a second job.
Jun 6, 2014 5:32PM
Why yes, unplug your cable box, TV, etc. Then you can have hours of enjoyment while they reboot, and as an added bonus, you get to reset all the clocks and reenter your personal settings. Oh, and that Game of Thrones episode you wanted to record? You can kiss that sucker goodbye since your DVR and cable box are one and the same now.
Jun 6, 2014 1:59PM
And just what good is a hundred dollars a year going to do me? The idea sucks!
Jun 6, 2014 2:16PM
A better idea - ?  Pay Netlix $8 mo to stream your TV - (or Apple TV - works fine), and dump cable -
Pay for Movies on Demand with Vudu, or Hulu. Save more.

Savingx?  If you have UWILLSERVEUS, it would mount to hundreds a year.

Jun 6, 2014 11:17PM

take that 100 and divide by 12 is it really worth the hassle of unpugging everything????????????

Jun 6, 2014 9:07PM

Hey one-persontrying

The ONLY answer to your question of why doesn't anyone ever consult people who actually know what they're talking about, is because the idiotic writers of this article probably still use 1970s technology. You know, like to old cable boxes that DIDN'T require programming, and they probably don't have computers in their houses either.

 Yes you probably COULD save electricity by pulling the plug on many devices, but you have a VALID point. the reprogramming in time and energy costs just don't make it worth it to pull the plug.

Jun 6, 2014 6:27PM
This didn't even add up to $100.00. So how does this save someone hundreds?
Jun 6, 2014 6:09PM
Cut some of your cable cost.get antenna for the window they work good (if your not a big TV fan ) They rum about 50 dollars a lot less than a monthly cable bill.Good Savings
Jun 6, 2014 5:05PM
So the author is not OK with unplugging a critical device such as a DVD player (I'd like to know how critical it is) and the cell phone charger (a whopping 25 cents/year), but wants us to turn off the DVR? I realize the DVR is $42/year, but it takes at least 5 minutes to boot up and get the TV shows downloaded. Who wants to do that everyday? And what if you get in the habit of unplugging it and then record something in the middle of the day? Oh well, the show is gone.
Jun 6, 2014 10:04PM
Honestly, the biggest waste of energy is reading an article like this one. 
Jun 9, 2014 9:16AM
To Emily Lugg: Why would you waste your time, and ours with these inconsequential savings? If you can save people $20 a week, it might actually mean something. But your telling us we can save a WHOPPING $2.00 a week. Wow, what a difference that will make. It's not even worth the time it takes to do any of these things for $2 a week.
You might as well start buying 2 ply toilet paper since you can separate each sheet into 2 sheets. Think how much you'll save there. While you're at it, unless you get really sweaty, you can wear underwear for 2 days. Think how much you'll save on laundry costs.

And by the way, the digital cable box and DVR, which is is one your biggest offenders, will never be unplugged daily by anyone, EVER! Because anyone who has a digital DVR/cable box knows that when it loses power, it can take up to 5 minutes to reprogram itself once power is restored.
Besides that, anyone who spends $75 or more per month on digital cable doesn't care about $2 per month.

Jun 10, 2014 2:57PM

Run an extension cord to your neighbors' house and save hundreds.


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