Around-the-clock appliances

By Magen Howard, CCC

Around-the-clock appliances
GE’s new dishwasher with exclusive Wash Zones allows consumers to run a cycle on just the top or bottom rack, but remember to use energy-saving settings.

While appliances have become more energy efficient, few truly shut down anymore. And as Americans add more electronic devices to their households, more energy is consumed.

Leaving a phone plugged in without a phone attached uses 0.26 watts of electricity and 2.24 watts when the handset is charging. That 0.26 watts might not be a big issue. But if most of your electronic devices are doing that, it can add up to as much as 10 percent of your bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Leaving your cable box plugged in for a year and never turning it off adds, on average, $17.83 to your electric bill. Toss in a DVR function and that jumps to $43.46, DOE reports.

Some clothes washers and dryers, refrigerators and dishwashers can be set to come on late at night, when the wholesale power your co-op must buy costs less. Here again, the bigger you go with a new appliance, the more energy it will use.

Try using a power strip to turn several electronics on or off at once. For a bigger investment, look into “smart” power strips that allow you to cut power to certain appliances — say, your TV — while letting power flow to your cable box because it takes time to reboot after being unplugged.

About the Author

Magen Howard writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the service organization for the nation's 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives.

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