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Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010 10:41 am

Energy-saving tips and tricks: Day Three

Tip #3- Unplug it!

Living in a dorm introduced me to the wonderful world of power strips/surge protectors. I wasn't concerned with saving my electronics from power outages as much as I was delighted by the opportunity to plug a million things into one old, tiny outlet.

Since I moved away from home, I've lived in a variety of ridiculously small rooms. (I do not exaggerate. I've shared a 10x10 space with three other people when I worked at summer camp and I spent my senior year in a bedroom that makes Harry Potter's cupboard under the stairs look like a luxury suite.) Surge protectors have saved me numerous times, when there's only one outlet for multiple people and their computers, ipods, phone chargers, etc.

However, as great as power strips can be, if you're not careful, all those electronics plugged into one place can add to energy bill like crazy.

power_strip_floor_lg.jpg

While surge protectors can save space/energy when you're actively using them, most appliances will continue to add to your utility bill if you don't unplug when you're done using them.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, electronics can carry phantom loads. (And no, that's not a euphemism.)

Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. These phantom loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics and appliances is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.

I don't know about you, but I'm not cool with 75% of my electric bill happening when my stuff's switched off!

This article from Cleveland.com (sorry Cleveland, whenever you're mentioned all I can think of is the Cleveland Tourism Ad), says you can save about $110 a year by unplugging unused appliances. They even break it down to individual devices. Unplugging my cell phone charger can buy me a couple new skirts at the thrift store? I'm in!

Cell phone charger: about $10 each year. Computer speakers: $4 per year. Dumping that desktop for a laptop could put $36 in your pocket annually.

Unplug. Save Money. Buy awesome things. Let's do this.

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