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Unplugging appliances can save more money than you think

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 12:31 p.m. CDT

Electricity costs are on the rise, but the average consumer can reduce his or her bill by reducing “vampire” electronic use by appliances.

When electric items are turned off, some — called “vampire appliances” — still consume electricity. To resolve this issue there are two options: use power strips or unplug the cord.

Power strips cost around $10 and save money. Rather than unplugging each cord, power strips provide a switch that cuts electricity to multiple items.

Some popular “vampire electronics” are:

• Computers — there are a couple of options when it comes to saving money on electrical use for computers. Turning off the computer may not be the best answer. Putting the computer in sleep mode can be the best option if the computer will be in use a few hours later. A safe way to ensure that the computer will go in sleep mode is to adjust the power options in the menu which can be done by:

In Windows 7, go to Start. Type “Power Options” in the search bar and select it. There will be a way to adjust the time when sleep mode should be activated.

In Mac OS X, click on the “Apple Icon” and then choose “System Preferences.” In the new window, select “Energy Saver.” MacBook or MacBook Pro users have an option to choose between changing settings on the battery or when it is running from the power adapter. Lastly, change the slider bars to the appropriate times, and check the appropriate options below.

Consumers who do this can save $50 or more a year. Shutting it down completely is the best overall, but rebooting can become a hassle.

• DVD/Blu-ray players — if the product is in use three times a week, it is an energy drainer. Even with the unit turned off, the cord being plugged in causes the circuit to be complete. Leaving it plugged in will waste about 80 kilowatts a year.

• Laptops — not only is this bad for energy bills, but for the battery as well. Leaving it plugged in can overcharge it, causing the battery to be useless without its cord. Wait till the battery is almost dead, and then charge it. Do not leave it on the charger for longer than 24 hours at a time.

• TV — this is the largest consumer of energy in most households. When purchasing a new TV be sure to look for the Energy Star symbol. Many new TVs use more than 100 watts when in use. Remember to turn off the TV and cable box to save money.

• Cell phone chargers — many consumers often forget about unplugging their cell phone chargers before leaving, and it is a costly mistake. A simple check everyday can save a few dollars in the long run.

• Video game systems — a PS3 uses about 177 watts on idle status, and uses about 193 watts when in use. Xbox 360 uses about 155 watts when it’s in idle status, and about 189 watts when in use. The Nintendo Wii and Wii U does not use anything near the electric output the other two consoles use, but it does not hurt to shut them off when not in use.

Of course, you could unplug everything — except necessities like the refrigerator and carbon monoxide detector — after each use.

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