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Unplug and save hundreds

June 14, 2013 - Art Smith
The recent round of thunderstorms that swept through the valley had me running around the house Wednesday night unplugging our assortment of electronic devices in an effort to prevent them from being zapped by a bolt of lightning, while at the same time charging up things like cellphones we would need in the event of a power outage.

We’ve been zapped before. In 1997 a strike took out a cross section of devices around the house, including a VCR, a garage opener and a computer.

Our house, like most, has scores of things plugged into outlets. They are all at risk when lighting strikes close, and the only sure fire way to prevent them from being damaged is to unplug them from the wall.

You can put them on surge protectors, but a really bad strike will not only fry the surge protector, it may also kill the device you thought you were protecting.

The next time you find yourself running around your house unplugging sensitive electronics, you might think about leaving some of the things you do not use all the time unplugged.

The average home has around 40 items that draw constant power regardless if you are using them or not. Phone chargers, for instance, only use about five percent of the energy they use to actually charge your phone. Large portions of instant-on televisions are always on, sucking power, regardless if they are being watched or not.

According to the EPA, $10 billion in energy cost are wasted each year.

The biggest drains are from things that are on standby waiting for you to hit a button on a remote. Garage door openers, TVs, VCRs, DVD players, plus things such as audio systems, clock radios, phone and answering machines, microwave ovens and standard ovens are all big energy wasters.

How wasteful? It’s costing you about $200 a year to power all those things when you are not using them. Wasted energy accounts for 7-25 percent of the energy used in U.S. homes.

Solutions include using power strips where you can flip off several devices at once; some are smart and will cut power when nothing is being used. You can also put things on timers that will shut down automatically after a certain amount of time.

The best advice likely came from your mom when you were five. Turn off the lights when you are not in the room… and unplug things you are not using.


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