A couple of weeks ago, I was in a car with a friend of mine when we began discussing home energy use. I mentioned to her that Eddy and I are obsessed with unplugging appliances. Did you know that electronic appliances that are left plugged consume electricity? Called vampire draw or phantom load, appliances that are left switched off or in a standby mode continue to draw electricity. The vampire draw of individual household electronic devices is typically very small, but the sum of all such devices within the household becomes significant. Appliances that may consume vampire draw include: TVs, VCRs, DVD players, microwave ovens, toaster ovens, blenders, coffeemakers, computers, printers, and home video game consoles.
In addition to drawing electricity, appliances that are left plugged tend to generate heat, adding to heating and cooling of a house. In warm months, additional energy may be used to remove the extra heat from vampire draw, contributing to increases in air conditioning costs. During cool periods, the heat generated by devices on standby may slightly reduce the need to heat a space by other methods.
Eddy and I call ourselves Energy Nazis. We detest vampire draw, and we despise having to use additional energy to cool our home during summer in Arkansas. So, we unplug our appliances when not in use.
My friend, upon hearing this, asked, “Isn’t it tedious to remember to unplug them?” Honestly, I don’t notice unplugging appliances. The other day, I toasted dried squid in our toaster oven. (I know. Don’t ask. It’s my favorite snack.) As I left the kitchen, I couldn’t remember if I had unplugged the oven. I went back to the kitchen only to find it unplugged. Relieved, I went back to the living room to enjoy my snack.
If you want to save money and reduce your environmental footprint, make it a habit to unplug unused appliances. If you find it difficult to unplug appliances, plug them into a surge protector and turn off the protector when appliances are not in use.