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Shutting Down the Energy "Thieves" in Your Home

On the hunt for another $100.00 (per year) to stretch your budget? One study found a surprising number of “Always On” electrical devices in our homes: 

  • Coffee makers and other small appliances with built-in clocks 
  • Cable/satellite, game and other TV connecting boxes- plus the TVs themselves 
  • Many things connecting to a home computer 

In addition, start the search for things draining your electricity in the basement, attic, garage and unused/little-used rooms. If something displays a small glowing light or clock… it’s always on! I found dehumidifiers and an automatic, thermostat-controlled room fan left on all winter. A year ago, I gained the courage to dispose of a second refrigerator and started using LED (energy saving) light bulbs to cut electricity costs. Remember a rule-of-thumb… if out of a room for more than fifteen minutes, turn lights and stuff off. Unplug things in guest rooms. 

All power converter and re-charger plugs are consuming electricity… un-plug them when not charging the device/phone/camera. A good practice is to plug electronic, entertainment devices into power strips where one switch each night turns off multiple things. The same can work pretty well in the kitchen, too. 

One would hope that equipment makers were focused on helping you save electricity, but that often isn’t true. Except for larger appliances using the energy-star or similar standard, most devices in your home have had little scrutiny about lowering your operating costs. Smart meters supplied by your electric company, LED lighting, and some monitoring devices are notable exceptions. 

Vigilance is your best cost-cutting strategy. So, remember that anything that glows or remains plugged in should be questioned. If it adds to your safety, leave it on. If it is simply a convenience ask “what is it worth”? Tour your living space six times per year just to be sure that you have everything the way that you want it. Plan ahead to make larger, energy-saving purchases. 

Steven Groner 
Community Economics Educator
Edwards, Lawrence, Richland, Wabash, and Wayne Counties