Are your plugged-in electronics draining energy?

It’s a safe assumption that if you have an electric bill, you’d like to have lower monthly payments. There are a lot of things that contribute to a household’s electric bill. What makes sense for reducing one household’s bill wouldn’t work as well for another.

Older appliance issues

We ran into this with a client recently. He had just moved and began receiving what he felt were outrageous electric bills. He was concerned there must be some problem with the house’s electrical systems because he had never seen his electric bills that high.

As we continued the discussion, he pointed out he had moved from a smaller and newer home with natural gas to a larger and much older home in Oklahoma City with an all-electric system.

We were able to determine that there were no real issues with the home. Because of the age of the appliances, though, they were using a lot of energy. And since the home was all-electric, the water heater and heater were using way more power than their gas heated counterparts.

In the end, there were no electrical issues in this man’s home—just a potential to modernize some appliances to use less energy. Most newer appliances use much less energy than the older versions.

Do you need to unplug?

We often come across the idea that people can save on their electric bills by unplugging their electronics. That may be helpful if your appliances are older and less efficient, but many electronics use a lot less energy than you’d expect.

Here’s a list of some common household electronic items, along with how much energy they use while plugged in. These numbers are based on post-2005 appliances and national average usage.

As a reminder, watts essentially measures the amount of energy used. Your power company bills you by what is called the kilowatt-hour, which is a measure equivalent to 1,000 watts of consumption for one hour. Since these rates are based on national averages, they will vary slightly for our Edmond Electric and OG&E customers, but it just goes to show that you aren’t probably losing very much money if you leave your computer plugged in.

Average cost per year

  • Electric furnace: 7200 kwh, $684.72/year
  • Central air conditioning: 2500 kwh, $237.75/year
  • Curling iron: 1300 kwh, $123.63/year
  • Well pump (1 horsepower): 1000 kwh, $95.10/year
  • Fridge/freezer (large): 750 kwh, $71.33/year
  • Ceiling/box fan: 750 kwh, $71.33/year
  • Computer w/monitor: 450 kwh, $42.80/year
  • Microwave: 350 kwh, $33.29/year
  • Coffee maker: 140 kwh, $13.31/year

The amount each appliance uses will vary from one household to another, but overall, many of these things use minimal energy when they aren’t used, even if they’re still plugged in. Again, these are modern appliances. Older electronics and appliances are much less efficient, and use a lot more energy.

If your electric bill is higher than you’d like, you may want to consider replacing older appliances instead of unplugging them.


  1. Thanks for the great share! I also like the idea of Home energy. The best part I like is this: The reliability and availability of modern energy sources cause people to tend to assume that it will always be accessible. And as for the case of non-renewable energy sources, most people do not know or maybe even refuse to accept that it will eventually run out.

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