5 Secret Energy Suckers Around the Home

$100 bills on top of an electrical bill and a charger cord.

We may have any number of gadgets plugged in around the house at any given time, which is why we have so many outlets to use. Did you know that even though we’ve turned them “off,” they’re still using power, sucking up energy, and running up our electric bills? While it may seem a bit hasty to go around unplugging and turning things all the way off instead of leaving them in sleep mode, it’s important to be aware of which electric gadgets are energy hogs.

1. Gadgets in Standby Mode

Many newer, high tech gadgets suck up a lot of electricity even when they’re not in use. This is because they have a standby mode, which allows them to power on much more quickly than if they were turned off all the way. While the option of standby mode is handy and quick for powering up, what you might not know is that these gadgets are still technically on and using energy while they appear to be off. Make sure to power these electronics all the way down, including your computer, television, gaming systems, etc.

2. Chargers

A couple of smart phones being charged with white cords.

Think of all of the different chargers you have around your home—for phones, tablets, laptops, and more. Many folks leave them plugged in for easy access when they need it, but the problem is that as long as that cord is plugged in, it’s drawing a small amount of power from the wall outlet. To bring down your energy bills a bit, unplug your chargers when not in use or get a charging station—a handy box where you can plug all of your chargers into one power strip. What’s handy is that the power strip can be turned off to stop the use of energy during the day, and be turned back on when you need to charge a few things when you get home.

3. Old Appliances

An outdated kitchen with yellow walls and white appliances.

While spending a large chunk of money on new appliances is something most of us put off as long as possible, what we don’t consider is the savings in energy usage that new appliances can give us over the course of a year. Older refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, dryers, garbage disposals, and trash compactors use so much more power than newer ones. So while we may not want to invest in newer models because the old ones still work, we can save hundreds of dollars on electric bills just by replacing one or two of these older appliances over time.

4. Small Appliances and Electronics

A series of small appliances on a modern kitchen counter.

Many small appliances and electronics remain plugged in at home without much thought and are adding to our electric bills. Kitchen appliances such as toasters, blenders, juicers, coffee makers, microwaves, and more live on kitchen counters and stay plugged in all the time. If you use an item less than a few times a week, unplug it and store it in a cabinet until it’s next use. Other gadgets such as electric razors, hair straighteners, and curling irons stay plugged into bathroom outlets and are constantly using up energy even though they're used for minutes a day. If you add up all of the little amounts of power used by all of these items as they're sitting on counters, the energy usage adds up fast! Unplug what isn’t in use!

5. Light Bulbs

Lights use energy, and a lot of it. We’re so accustomed to having the whole room we’re in lit up brightly that it’s easy to go overboard with the number of lights turned on when we’re home. Make sure your family members, as well as yourself, are turning off the lights when they leave a room. Create good habits and use less energy by teaching everyone to be aware of how many lights they have on at any given time, and analyze how much they need that activity. Also make sure you’re using energy-efficient light bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs.