(WASHINGTON) -- How high is your monthly electricity bill? With the kind of summer we've had, your power consumption has probably gone through the roof if you've kept the fan and air conditioner on to keep you cool during the ongoing wave of oppressive heat.
There are ways that you can cut back, though. Did you know that certain appliances and electronics will continue to use power even when they're switched off? It's estimated that 10 percent of the average home electricity bill comes from the energy used by these products, which are popularly called "energy vampires."
These products include cable and DVR boxes, cordless phone chargers, microwave ovens, and video game consoles.
The only way to prevent them from using standby power -- that is, drawing on the energy supply even after they're turned off -- is to unplug them.
Here are a few tips, taken from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to help you cut standby power and save money:
Identify Energy Vampires
- Identify products that draw standby power. Products with one or more of the following features typically have standby power use: A remote control , external power supply, digital display, LED status light, or digital clock, a battery charger or a soft-touch key-pad.
- Other products that may not have these features also can have standby power. The only way to be certain is to measure them with a meter. Most homes will typically have 20 such devices.
Pull the Plug
- Unplug appliances or electronic items that aren't used often. The best example is the television and DVD/DVR in the second guest room.
- Use a power strip with a switch to control clusters of products. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's website, the most likely targets are computer clusters (PC, display, printer, scanner, speakers, wireless transmitter, etc.); video clusters (TV, DVD player, powered speakers, game consoles, etc.); and audio clusters (receiver, amplifier, CD players, etc.). Be sure to keep the set-top box and modem on a separate circuit to avoid loss of connection.
- Buy low-standby products. This could be difficult because few products list their standby power use. Most Energy Star-rated items have lower standby.
- Most of us leave our cell phones to charge overnight while we sleep. But they only take about an hour to charge fully, so the rest of the time you're wasting energy. Try charging your cell phone while you eat dinner instead -- a shorter time frame.
An aggressive campaign, armed with knowledge about which products draw standby, can cut total standby by as much as a third, according to the Berkeley lab.
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