Saturday, October 18, 2008

Your TV is Off, But It’s Costing You Money!

So I was outside earlier today playing with my kids and noticed that my home’s electricity meter was spinning fast. I wondered – hey, we’re outside and it’s the middle of the day, why is it spinning so fast?

When I walked inside, I realized it probably had a lot to do with the air conditioner and the clothes dryer. Either way, it got me thinking about our energy consumption and what I could possibly do to slow down that little spinning meter and reduce my monthly bill.

I walked around my house this evening just to see how plugged in we are. Right now, we have the following plugged in: 2 TVs (one is on, one is off), 2 cable receivers (one on, one off), 1 stereo, 2 cell phone chargers (neither have cell phones actually charging), 1 printer (I might use it later), 1 fax (not in use), 1 microwave (not in use), 1 stove (not in use), 2 DVD players (off), 2 laptops (both being used), 3 alarm clocks, 1 baby monitor and yikes - 28 light bulbs were on! 3 in the bathroom (we forgot to turn the lights off after we bathed the kids), 8 in the front hallway (someone just visited so we turned the light on - we actually have a 12 light chandelier, but ironically in the name of conservation, we decided not to replace the 4 that blew out), 2 in the office, 4 in the bedroom, 5 in the kitchen, 4 in the dining room and 2 in the living room). Most of the lights have since been switched off.

Well, it turns out that even if we were to turn all the lights off, we would still be using unnecessary energy and giving away precious dollars due to the fact that we have a ton of items plugged in that we aren’t using. For example, most people aren’t aware that 5% of the power drawn by cell phone chargers is actually used to charge phones. The other 95% is wasted when you leave it plugged into the wall, but not in to your phone. The cell phone charger is not the only energy waster in our homes. Plenty of products, from your TV, DVD player, printer, satellite TV receiver and your answering machine all waste energy when they’re plugged in to the wall, even if you’re not using them. Your oven may not be on, but the clock is! Appliances with continuous digital displays such as the microwave oven use electricity even when you’re not using it, and the TV, well, it’s just sitting there heating it’s tube waiting to be turned on.

A recent investigation of standby power use of 190 appliances in 10 Californian homes showed that the total standby power accounted for up to 26% of the total annual electricity use, with an average of 9%. The appliances with the largest standby losses were televisions, set-top boxes and printers.

From now on, the toaster and coffee maker will be unplugged when not in use and we’ll gradually invest in Smartstrips for our electronics.

Talk a walk around your place – how plugged in are you and how much could you save?


  1. I thought about this with all of the Glade Scented Oil Warmer plug-ins I bought recently. Right away I opened a bunch of them up and plugged them in every room. Then I thought....wait a second. I saved all that money - but what is this really costing me? Do you think it's costing a lot....Glade warmers? Or is this mostly just electronic things.....?


  2. Hey Rachel,
    That's a really good question. They probably wouldnt take up much electricity, but I'd love to find out.

    Two other questions 1)how much are the Glade Scented refills going to cost and 2)do we really want to fill our homes with artificial scents since we don't fully know the effects that these warmed chemicals have on our indoor air quality? With so many people getting cancer, I'm opting to open the windows more often!


What are your thoughts? Your comments are welcome!