STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Unplug Appliances When Not In Use or Use a Smart Power Wtrip

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
Believe it or not, many of the electronic devices in your home are quietly drawing electricity all the time, whether you are using them or not. It happens with stereos, televisions, microwaves, and many other appliances. As you can imagine, even small amounts of electricity multiplied by many millions of homes and appliances lead to staggering amounts of wasted energy when they are applied 24 hours a day. This energy use is known as standby power or vampire power (because it sucks your power in the middle of the night). Unlike mythological vampires, you don’t need garlic or wooden stakes to fend off this beast. You can simply unplug appliances that are not in use or buy a smart power strip that will do the work for you.

Tips & Tricks
Use a smart power strip. Because it’s not practical to unplug every appliance whenever you’re not using it, several companies have developed so-called smart power strips that do the job for you. They essentially monitor electricity use in each plug and shut off the ones that have been idle for a period of time. See below for details on where to get a smart power strip.

If you don’t have a smart power strip, unplug unused appliances. Even if you only unplug the ones with the highest standby power, this will still make a big difference. Use the references below to determine which of your electronic devices have the highest standby power (hint: TVs, VCRs, and stereos are among the worst culprits).

Web & Print Resources
About standby/vampire power:
http://standby.lbl.gov/faq.html
www.grinningplanet.com/2004/10-26/vampire-power-electricity-article.html
www.energyrating.gov.au/standby-profiles2.html

Smart power strips:
www.treehugger.com/files/2005/12/smart_power_str.php
www.treehugger.com/files/2006/12/cut_back_on_pha.php

Appliances and electricity:
www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/appliances/

General energy saving tips:
www1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/tips/heating_cooling.html
www.energyquest.ca.gov/saving_energy/index.html
www.stillwaterpower.com/100tips.html

Fun Facts

Current estimates indicate that standby power use in the U.S. accounts for about 5% of residential electricity use. Source

Residential electricity consumers in the U.S. spend over 4 billion dollars on standby power every year. Source