I’VE heard endless warnings telling me I should always unplug my lights, telly and every other electrical device in my home – or risk losing a chunk of my hard-earned cash.
The Energy Saving Trust reckons you can save £35 a year by not leaving appliances on standby mode.
But does it really make a difference? I was sceptical so I decided to put my “resting” electrical gadgets to the test using my trusty smart plug.
I also looked at the cost of running certain appliances and devices that I am prone to leave on, even when I’m not using them.
Devices that suck energy when they're not even used are also known as vampire appliances.
Here’s what I learned – and what I’ll do differently now.
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For Christmas this year our family received two brilliant gadgets – an Amazon Echo Show and an Echo Dot, which are great for playing music and finding out information quickly.
The Echo Show has an “idle” display showing on the screen when it’s not in use, which constantly shows off the device’s functions and features.
This comes at a cost. I watched the energy surge as the device changed one display for another, particularly when it switched to one with detailed pictures and words.
The Show’s “standby” energy use typically flits from around 2.7watts to 3.7watts, which means the cost is around 2p a day in resting mode.
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I'm going to look into turning off the display to save on cost.
My son’s prized Christmas gift was an Echo Dot which has no screen, and its “resting” consumption is about half that of the Echo Show.
It typically consumes around 1.4watts – costing me just a penny to run for a day, based on current electricity rates (34p per kWh).
It will cost at least £3.65 to run the device for a year, but it’s a small price to pay for keeping my boy busy so I’ll let him keep it on.
I have a hefty dehumidifier on our top floor which I leave on all day to stop the house from getting too steamy.
It’s a noisy cranky old thing, bought about five years ago, but it does a great job collecting buckets of water out of the air.
In “active mode”, it typically uses about 200 watts of electricity, costing me around 7p an hour.
But in its quiet state, when it’s just monitoring the air and not actually dehumidifying, it uses around 0.6watts of energy, which costs a fraction of a penny over 24 hours (basically next to nothing).
The answer here is to try and avoid the air getting so humid that the machine doesn’t start working and burning up energy and money.
Having said that, it’s impossible to avoid moisture in winter.
I’m pretty terrible at leaving my laptop on charge even when it’s got a full battery and I’m not using it.
So I plugged in my ageing Dell Inspiron to see if it was actually costing me anything to do this.
Somewhat bafflingly, the smart plug showed the laptop was consuming power even though the battery was full and the machine was switched off.
Every minute the power usage would flick from 0 to 0.3 or 0.4 watts, before dropping down to 0 again.
The cost of this over 24 hours would be less than a penny, but I realise we have more than one laptop in the house, as well as phones and tablets.
If they are all left charging for no reason then it will start to push up my bills.
I’m certainly not going to leave any of these devices charging overnight anymore.
With two small kids in the house, I’m often running after them from room to room, forgetting to switch lights off behind me.
The kids themselves love switching lamps on and off as sadly they haven’t yet realised the true horror of the cost of living crisis, in spite of me constantly moaning about it.
My plug showed my bedroom lamp consumes 4 watts at a time, which would mean it costs 1p to run for eight hours.
We’ve got a lamp in every room of the house, so I’ll be sure to turn them off to stop them piling on our fuel bills.
One of the oddest findings was when I tested my decade-old Panasonic telly in standby mode.
It’s normal consumption when on standby is around 0.6 to 0.7watts, which is pretty light. Using that amount of power for 24 hours would cost £0.005712, according to the sust-it.net energy calculator. So I’m not too worried.
What surprised me was the telly’s consumption when it was first switched on at the plug.
For the first three minutes, it was using around 9watts of power before dropping down to 0.7watts.
I guess that’s due to it connecting with the internet and getting itself in order ready for someone to switch on and watch.
But it’s worth noting that after switching it on at the plug, it temporarily requires 13 times more power than it would use on normal standby mode.
So clicking the plug on and off all day may end up using more energy than if you just left it on standby.
Horror of horrors – I came downstairs the other morning to discover my electric radiator had been left on full power overnight.
We use it for a quick heat boost in our garage conversion during the winter – and due to the running cost, I have signs up reminding us to TURN OFF HEATER when we leave the room.
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On this occasion, they were ignored and as a result, this 2-kilowatt power guzzler was left to burn away all night – at a cost of 70p an hour.
The cats had a lovely toasty night sleeping by it – for which I paid a total of £7 for the 10 hours it went undiscovered. Never again.
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