What Can I Unplug Now?

What Can I Unplug Now?

We need standby power because it performs useful tasks that supplement primary functions. In other cases, standby power arises from poor design.  In all cases, careful design can reduce standby power use.

Here’s a list of potential “unpluggables” to quickly reduce standby power usage. The highest priority are older appliances that you rarely (or no longer) use. Also target seasonal devices that will be unused for many months each year. Consider unplugging:

  • Unused VCRs
  • Old boom boxes
  • Empty battery chargers
  • Power supplies for e-bikes and golf carts during the off-seasons
  • Audio equipment that is rarely used, including amplifiers, boom boxes, shelf-top audio systems, DVD players
  • Kitchen appliances used infrequently: rice cookers, Instapots, bread-makers, etc.
  • Office equipment rarely used, such as scanners, shredders, fax machines, and older printers
  • Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) connected to nothing
  • Garden tools during the off-season, such as lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and hedge trimmers
  • Heated pet beds and other heated pet amenities when not in use
  • The unused TV in the guest room (along with associated set-top box and sound bar)
  • Any device powered with a remote control or an illuminated digital display that you no longer use
  • Seasonal heating and cooling equipment, such as room air conditioners, portable humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air filters
  • Network hubs and components that are no longer connected to anything

Some causes of standby need adjustments in the devices rather than unplugging. On computers, enable the sleep mode. Hot water circulation pumps should be put on a timer and operating only during prime times. Many bottled water dispensers have hot and refrigerated water options; switch them off if you don’t need one or the other (or both). Heated toilet seats can be switched off during the summer.

Every home is unique, so think first before you unplug and then observe the consequences when you do. Sometimes a yellow post-it note is useful to remind the family that it’s unplugged. A switchable power strip makes sense if you can control many devices from a single location. Safety first: don’t unplug and plug devices with worn power cords.