Unplug standby appliances to save money!

Image courtesy of Care2

Image courtesy of Care2

United States of American is the second largest user of electricity, first is China. On average, a residential customer in the US is using ~11,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in one year. You might not understand how much electricity consumption this figure represents; put simply, this figure is huge! Again, Americans are leaders in the chart for highest household electricity consumption, second to only Canada in this race.

I will talk about saving energy in another post, today I want to focus your attention on saving electricity and how you can easily save money by doing something incredibly simple. But first, let’s see how much Americans are spending on their electricity bills.

Average American household electricity usage [annual] = ~11,000 kWh

Average rate per kWh = ~12.6 cents or 0.126 dollars

Average yearly electricity bill payment = 11,000 x 0.126

= approximately $1386

The average annual residential electricity bill is ~$1386. Electricity rate is much higher in some states, ~37.10 cents in Hawaii, ~19.20 cents in Alaska, ~20.10 cents in New York, and so on.  So, if you are living in a state where electricity rate is high, then you probably are paying your monthly bill in excess of $1386.

How would you feel if I tell you that you can reduce your electricity bill by almost 25% without sacrificing any luxury? I am guessing you will very much like that :)

What is consuming all this extra electricity?

In order to achieve this goal, we first need to talk about what stand-by devices are and how they eat up electricity even when you think they are switched off!

Television sets, including the old fat CRT and the new LCDs, LEDs…, all of them run on low voltage DC current. You plug them in 220 or 110 volts sockets but the circuit board and all other equipment inside TV sets use around 12 volts of Direct Current [DC.] The power cable takes 220/110 volts [AC] Alternative Current inside your TV set; it goes directly to a fuse box and then to a step-down transformer, a component manufacturers use to reduce voltage. It reduces the voltage from 220/110 to 12volts. Other circuit called rectifier then converts this voltage from AC to DC.

Why am I telling you all this electronics stuff? If you really want to understand how appliances are wasting your money, you need to stay with me and try to understand just few basic things about how appliances in your home are working.

The 12-volt direct current then travels to other circuits. When you turn-on your TV using the power-button on the set or from the remote, the 12 volts starts to travel around inside your TV. When you turn it off, one circuit cut-off the 12V supply; however, it does not stop the aforementioned voltage conversion by the step down transformer. So even when you turn off your LCD, or whatever kind of display you are using, the voltage conversion is continuously happening. One of the circuits inside your TV set is powering the standby-light, so even when you think your TV is switched-off, current is still flowing from the transformer to a circuit that provides the small voltage which powers the standby-light. This small light does not consume much electricity, however, the continuous conversion by the transformer, and other heat generating components, sure does.

A transformer is a great device but one of its drawbacks is that it wastes electricity in the form of heat. For instance, your phone charger has one; if you plug it and charge a phone, its temperature gradually increases. The charger gets warm and in some cases, even hot.

The temperature of transformers increases even when you don’t attached anything to it. As long as current is flowing through it, it continuously wastes energy!

Go put your hand on the back of your LCD, which is turned-on, right now. You probably are going to detect a lot of heat coming from it. Just make sure you are not touching anything that could be dangerous! The transformer and some other components are generating this heat.

When in standby mode your TV still generates heat, but it is less noticeable. This heat is the result of continuous current flowing through the transformer and some other components that waste energy in the form of heat.

I briefly explained how your TV set is wasting electricity when it goes in standby mode, but it is not the only device you should be worried about because your house probably has several other devices that are wasting electricity in the same way. I can go on the talk about these other devices, but I believe that isn’t necessary. The main issue is that several devices in your house are consuming electricity even when you think they are turned off.

According to some reports, an average American household is wasting 25% of electricity because of these standby appliances [some people call them vampire devices.] Look around your house, you will find several devices that are wasting electricity [if they are plugged-in] [sometimes called vampire power]; for instance, your personal-computer, laptop, iPhone/iPad charges, printers, scanners, video game consoles, adaptors/chargers for different devices, towel warmer, home audio systems, etc.

So, how much money can you save in one year?

Previously in this article, we established that the average household electricity bill [annually] is $1386. Now we know that approximately 25% of our electricity bill is a result of energy waste by standby appliances. Let’s say we stop this wastage; how much money would that save us?

25% of 1386 = $346.50

So you can basically save one quarter of your expenditure on electric bills; isn’t that cool?

This begs the question, how can you stop electricity wastage by these standby devices?

The answer is quite simple. Unplug them! Yes, you heard me correctly. The only way to stop these energy sucking appliances is to unplug them when you are not using them. And off course, don’t think of it as an ordeal. You don’t have to plug/unplug all devices all the time. You can make small changes in your home’s electric circuits to make it easier for you to cut-off electricity supply to certain appliances. For instance, you can use a device called “Electrical Timer” to automatically cut-off power supply to appliances. You know when you use your TV and when it isn’t used; like when you go to office or sleep, you aren’t going to use your TV. So you can use an electrical timer to automatically cut-off power supply to certain appliances according to a schedule. Once you install this timer, you then only have to enter the time when you want it to cut-off or start supplying power.

Using electrical timer is just one of many easy solutions you can use to stop electricity wastage by standby appliances; there are several other simple solutions too. I am going to talk about them in detail in another post. For now, begin with making a plan to stop electricity waste so you can start saving money!

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