WASHINGTON — Have you heard the advice to unplug your toaster when it’s not in use, to save some dough on your energy bill? Turns out, it could mean savings for both you and the planet -- but it’s hardly the only plug to pull.
Does your toaster use electricity, even when you’re not using it?
Yes, but so does every other appliance in your home.
The Natural Resources Defense Council
Ram Narayanamurthy with the US Department of Energy
WHAT WE FOUND
“So in the simplest terms, as long as something is connected, and they have some kind of a power conversion device inside them, they're going to be using just a trickle of electricity,” Narayanamurthy said. He says manufacturers and regulators have worked together a lot over the last few decades to make products that use less.
“So a toaster that's plugged in today might be using far less energy than it would have 20 years ago,” he said.
But our homes, offices, and shared spaces have been getting “smarter”-- more connected and online -- and that takes energy.
“As we go towards the smart home and the connected home now we are seeing a lot more energy loss, because all of them are staying on just to stay connected to the to to your app, essentially,” Narayanamurthy said. “So it's not a huge amount. But everything adds up.”
The NRDC’s studies have found a lot of appliances suck up power, even when the power switch is off. The toaster’s “idle electricity use” is near the bottom of the list in most households. Main offenders include the television and all its accessories, desktop computers, printers, and internet equipment.
“Anything you can unplug, unplug, if you're using something that's less than an hour a day, unplug it,” Narayanamurthy said. “In comparison, I think the toaster definitely is not where the big energies are today.”
Even if it only adds a few dollars a year to your electric bill, multiply that by several appliances around the house.
Or beyond that? Millions of households around the country.
However, some smart technology, like with thermostats and water heaters, can also help us be more energy efficient, so the Department of Energy is still studying the tradeoffs.
Those are things you probably wouldn’t unplug anyway.