This might sound logical, but is it just a waste of time or does it really saves money? And if it saves money, is it worth the inconvenience of having to unplug, plug and set clocks on daily basis?
All over the internet there are claims of $50 and even $100 monthly savings from unplugging the computer, coffee machine and even laptop, but these are just not true, unless the last time these people bought their devices and small appliances was in 1980 or they have a 20 bedrooms home each one with a computer, tv, fridge and all the luxuries. If you’re saving $50 a month just by unplugging a few devices around your 4 bedroom home, something is really wrong in your home electrical installation.
Savings from unplugging doesn’t apply to all devices and appliances. Unless the device has a light, a clock or is intended to do something while shut off like televisions and any device with a remote control, you can leave your devices plugged. Devices that have a clock and a light like microwaves, laptops, tvs, kitchen clocks, chargers, etc, might consume some energy while turned off (this is called phantom load), but the amount of energy is very little on most devices. Unplugging them all might save you some money (about 4% of your electrical bill per month) but in most cases not enough to justify the time you will spend programming those clocks back every day.
In a study done by the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2012 it was reported “The standby power, also known as the “phantom load”, which is the power constantly used by devices when plugged in even when not turned on, for display clocks and remote control response, for example, is estimated to be 20% of the electricity used by the devices, or 4% of the entire homes electrical use.”
Let’s do some numbers to see what’s really going on.
The average electric bill in America was between $30 and $100 per month in 2013. Let’s take an electrical bill of $50.
$50 * 0.04 = $2.00 * 12 = $24.00
The savings from unplugging all the appliances that use phantom load would be about $2 per month or $24 per year.
Your savings will depend entirely on how big your home is, how many appliances and devices you have in your household that use phantom load and how many people live in it of course.
In most cases the annoyance of plugging everything back and setting up all those clocks on a daily basis might not justify the small savings. But technology has made it convenient for us to turn on and off a few appliances at a time with just one click. Advanced Power Strips (APS) are strips of plugs where you can safely plug multiple devices to turn them on and off. Starting at around $30 a piece they can get expensive since you will need more than one to plug all your devices and appliances in the different zones of your home. But there is a problem with these power strips, they don’t last forever, so you will have to replace them. Those costs compared to the savings in electricity add up very quickly, especially if you are married and have kids.
Let’s see the numbers.
We already established a bill of $50 gives an approximate saving of $2 per month or $24 per year from unplugging devices that use phantom load. Now let’s assume the home is a 3 bedroom home, with 1 flat screen tv with cable, nothing fancy, 1 wii console, 1 electronic alarm clock in the main bedroom, 1 laptop computer, 1 microwave with clock, 1 stove with clock, 1 coffee maker with clock, well you get the idea.
So you will need a few power strips to turn on/off all the appliances. Let’s take the base of $30 per power strip to do the calculation.
Because of the configuration of the house, you will need:
1 APS in the bedroom to plug the alarm clock, that’s $30
1 APS in the living room to plug the tv, cable, and wii console +$30 = $60
at least 2 APS in the kitchen, one to plug your stove and microwave, and the other to plug your coffee machine and any other small appliances that requires to be unplugged, that’s +$60 = $120.
To save $24 a year on electricity your will need to spend $120 in power strips, just to make your life a little bit easier so you won’t have to unplug and plug absolutely every cord in your home. That means it would take you about 5 years to start saving $24 per year in electricity again. Is it worth it?…