This wasted energy, known as standby or phantom energy loss, represents a relatively small but growing percentage of an individual home's electricity use. Some of the largest energy wasters in most homes are adapters that come with rechargeable battery-powered cordless phones, cell phones, digital cameras and music players, power tools, and other electronic devices. Most draw power whenever they are plugged into an outlet, regardless of whether the device battery is fully charged - or even connected. Other culprits include appliances or electronic equipment with standby capability (such as televisions and computer monitors), a remote control, and/or a digital clock display (such as microwaves, DVD players, and stereo systems).
Here are a few easy ways to help you enjoy your electronics without wasting energy:
- Unplug it - Unplugging devices when they are not being used eliminates any potential energy loss. To save the time and hassle of unplugging all the components of a computer or home entertainment system, one could plug them into a power strip that can be turned off with a single switch. Unfortunately, some devices such as battery backup systems and computer network servers must be left on at all times to ensure proper functioning.
- Check the label - When buying an appliance or electronic device, choose the model that uses the least standby power. ENERGY STAR-labeled models are a good choice because they use less energy for both regular and standby operation. If standby power is not included on a given product label, check the U.S. Department of Energy's online database of manufacturer-supplied information.
- Keep it simple - Avoid buying products that include "bells and whistles" you don't need. Some of these extra features might waste energy.
To get an idea of how much money you are spending a year because of the energy vampires lurking in your home, click here to complete a quick-and-easy inventory.