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Electronics to Unplug to Save Energy

Pulling the plug on vampire electronics will conserve energy, save money, and often extend the lifespan of your devices.
person removing plug from power strip

Phantom power use. It sounds like something out of an episode of Scooby-Doo, and it is, in fact, something you should be wary of. Electronic devices use power when they’re plugged in, even if they’re not turned on. Unplugging large appliances such as your refrigerator, range, and dishwasher would be unwise, and difficult to do as well, and anything with a clock that needs to be reset after a power outage should be left alone. Here are some tips on what to unplug to save money and energy, while making sure your essential electronics are ready for you when you need them.

Small Appliances

Small kitchen appliances (think: electric can openers, coffee makers, blenders, etc.) are easy to unplug when not in use, and it’s a good habit to get into. While the risk of electrical fire is low when your appliances and electronics are in good working condition, why take that chance? Unplugging them is the only real way to eliminate the chances of that happening.

Entertainment Systems

One of the biggest offenders when it comes to phantom power use is your entertainment setup: stereo equipment, TV, cable box, game console. It may not be practical to unplug them all at the end of each day, but if you look around the house, you probably have seldom-used electronic devices (that TV in the guest bedroom, your college-age son’s Playstation) that are drawing power even in standby mode.


We’re probably all guilty of leaving our chargers plugged in. From phones and laptops to electric toothbrushes and bluetooth headphones, those chargers are adding to your electric bill even when they’re not actually charging. For less than $10, you can purchase an adapter with auto shut-off, which automatically cuts the power when your device is fully charged. This will not only save money, but it will also prolong the life of your device by stopping mini-charging cycles and preventing it from overheating.

Home Office Equipment

Your computer’s standby or sleep mode doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to energy consumption. By getting into the habit of unplugging your computer every night, you’ll not only save energy, but you’ll also protect your computer from serious damage, as power surges caused by lightning can fry your computer. Better yet, put your home office equipment (computer, printer, scanner, etc.) on a smart power strip and shut it all down with a single button when the workday is over.

Did You Know? The United States as a whole spends $19 billion a year on electricity it's not really using.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Vampire” electronics are responsible for as much as 20 percent of home energy consumption.
  • Unplugging devices when they’re done charging will not only save energy, but will also extend their lifespan.
  • Devices like modems, routers, and cable boxes should be left plugged in, as they often take a while to reboot when you turn them back on.