Slaying Energy Vampires: How Much Energy Do Idle Devices Draw?

You have probably heard that a great way to save money on utilities is unplugging devices that are not in use, like phone chargers, appliances, and hairdryers. While this is true, the question is, how much money? If you?re like most people, saving a few pennies on your electric bill isn?t worth the hassle of unplugging and re-plugging your electronic devices every day (even though, as we will explain further below, this is not actually necessary). In today?s post, our Cary electrician dives into the true costs of ?energy vampires?, and how much you can save by pulling the plugs.

How Much Power Do Energy Vampires Consume?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends an average of $1,444 annually on electricity costs. It is estimated that 14% to 20% of those expenses go to powering idle ?vampire? devices. One interesting thing to note is that, while overall electricity costs are decreasing, the amount of wasted energy has shot up from its 2015 levels, which ranged from 5%-10%. This is likely because, as our gadgets become more capable and powerful, more and more of them are making their way into our homes, meaning more and more items to plug in and forget about.

The Biggest Idle Energy Draws in Your Home

Research conducted by utility company Save On Energy found that the devices which consume the most energy in an average family home are:

  • Desktop computers: About $80 per year when on, but idle; about $25 when asleep
  • Set-top digital cable boxes: About $50 per year when turned off
  • Set-top DVRs: About $40 per year when turned off
  • Set-top satellite box with DVR: About $30 per year when off
  • Gaming consoles: About $30 per year when turned off

With so much focus placed on unplugging small devices like phone chargers, these figures may be surprising. However, the research showed that small plug-in devices are only drawing ?pocket change? when compared to the devices listed above.

  • USB hub: About $1.60 per year
  • Laser printer: About $2 per year
  • Scanner: About $3 per year
  • Mobile phone charger: About $0.60 per year
  • Coffee maker: About $2 per year
  • DVD player: About $2 per year
  • Floor lamp: About $2 per year, per lamp
  • Surge protector: About $1 per year

As you can see, if you are worried about all these small devices draining your power, you can rest easy?the biggest offenders are the large devices in your office and living room.

Controlling Energy Vampires with Our Cary Electrician

Now that you have learned how much you could be paying for idle electronic devices, you are probably eager to learn what you can do about it. The following methods can be used to control energy vampires:

  • Use smart power strips that automatically cut off power when devices are not in use.
  • Make use of energy-saving features such as the ?sleep mode? that is commonly built into computers.
  • Upgrade to energy-efficient devices which have a lower-than-average standby consumption rate.
  • Invest in ?smart home? devices, such as a smart thermostat, that can automatically adjust energy settings when you are away

If you live in Apex, Holly Springs, Garner, Raleigh, or Cary, our local electrician can help you make these upgrades to your home and more! We can also perform an electric energy audit to determine which areas of your home are drawing the most power. To schedule an appointment, please click here!

Tips on Reducing Your Energy Costs, From Our Holly Springs Electrician!?

Now that the new year has arrived, you most likely have new resolutions concerning your health, your hobbies, and your financial goals. One easy place to save money is your utility bills, especially your electricity. The following tips from our Holly Springs electrician cost very little, and can help you realize big savings on your home maintenance expenses.

Open the Shades

Sunlight is your best friend during the winter. During the day, be sure to keep the curtains open in order to let in as much light and warmth as possible. At night, keep all curtains and blinds closed to reduce the chill emanating from cold windows.?

Wash on the Cold Cycle?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 90% of energy used by a washing machine goes into heating the water, and 80% of dishwasher energy does the same. Most clothing doesn?t need to be washed in hot water to be clean, so you can save a lot of energy by using the cold setting.?

Adjust Your TV Settings?

Many TVs are configured by the factory to be in ?store mode?, a level of brightness that makes for an attractive display in a showroom. However, that amount of brightness is unnecessary in your living room. Adjusting your TV to the ?home? setting will reduce your energy expenditures and extend the life of your TV.?

Clean Your Air Filters?

A dirty air filter makes your heating system work harder, so be sure to change it out every few months. You can also opt for a washable filter, which can last up to 5 years. This simple change will save you money and cut down on the dust in your home as well.?

Use LED Lighting?

This holiday, save on your power bill by using low-energy LED light strings. LED lights last up to 10 times longer than incandescent lights, while consuming 70% less energy. In addition, a single LED bulb will not compromise an entire strand in the unlikely event it burns out, so you can celebrate the season with a lower bill and an emptier trash can.?

Use Electric Space Heaters Wisely

Space heaters are best used to heat up a chilly area, like a bathroom or desk, rather than a full-sized home. This is because, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, central heating systems use only 43% of the energy that an electric space heater uses to heat the same area. Running a space heater continuously instead of using central air can drastically raise your electric costs.?

Need Help Being Energy-Efficient? Call our Holly Springs Electrician!?

It?s estimated that the average household will use up to 200 kWh more in the winter. This is firstly due to the high cost of heating a home in the cold, and secondly due to the fact that most people stay inside more during the winter, running the TV, radio, lights, computer game system, and computers. That means that you are far more likely to place a drain on your system and face electrical issues!

If you need any help with your outlets, circuits, fixtures, or miscellaneous electrical item, just call Alternate Current Solutions. We?ll inspect your electrical system and help you save money in every place you can! To schedule a free electric inspection in Holly Springs, click here.?

Learn How Christmas Lights Affect Your Electric Bill from Our Holly Springs Electrician

Whether you dream of a single, beautiful Christmas tree in your front window, or want to go all-out and be ?that house? on the block this year, there?s no doubt that your electric bill is going to see a spike this December. The question is, how much? In today?s post, our Holly Springs electrician discusses just how much power Christmas lights consume, and what you can do to keep costs low. (Note: we use the national average cost of $0.13 per kWh for the estimates in this post. To calculate your own true costs, we recommend looking up the current going rate in your area.)?

How Much Power Do String Lights Consume?

Almost all of us will utilize string lights in our holiday d?cor. These simple, compact lighting options usually come in strings of 100, with each string consuming about .039 kW per hour. That?s about 1 kWh per day for one 100-light strand. If you leave that single string light on from morning to night, you?ll end up paying about $3.82 per month.

Now of course, very few of us will stop with just one little strand. It takes about 700 lights to fill a 7-foot Christmas tree, 1,000 for a 10-foot tree and about 2,000 for a 12-foot tree. Assuming you run the lights all day, without using a timer, and assuming that every hour of use costs $0.13, the numbers work out to:?

  • A 7-foot Christmas tree strung with 700 lights: $26.79 a month
  • A 10-foot tree strung with 1,000 lights: $38.28 a month
  • A 12-foot tree strung with 2,000 lights: $76.57 a month?

And that?s all just for one tree! You can see why using a timer to turn the lights off during the day is really essential if you don?t want to take a dive on energy costs. Most stores that sell lights sell timers right beside them, and you can make timing even easier with home automation devices.?

What About LED String Lights?

The second biggest way to save money on Christmas lighting, besides using a timer, is using LED lights. A strand of 100 lights only consumes about 0.0045 kWh per hour, which comes to about $0.44 per month. That means that if you switch the lights to LEDs, and run them for the same number of hours, the new costs are:?

  • A 7-foot Christmas tree strung with 700 lights: $3.10 a month
  • A 10-foot tree strung with 1,000 lights: $4.43 a month
  • A 12-foot tree strung with 2,000 lights: $8.86 a month?

There you have it?a by-the-numbers demonstration of why LED Christmas lights are such a great way to save on utility costs. Even better, since they consume less power, it?s less likely that you will need to add another circuit or upgrade your electrical panel, and less likely you will suffer the consequences of not doing so (i.e. an electrical fire).?

Need Holiday Lighting Help in Holly Springs? Call Alternate Current Solutions!

Alternate Current Solutions is here for all your holiday lighting and electrical needs. Whether you need help installing a rather complicated lighting setup; are experiencing overload issues resulting from extra guests at your house; or have another electrical challenge, just give us a call! Our Holly Springs electricians are happy to help you save money this holiday this season and beyond. To request an appointment for a free estimate, fill out our easy contact form here.?

Should I Should Add Another Circuit for Holiday Lights? Ask Our Holly Springs Electrician

Christmas lights are so small and beautiful, it?s hard to think of them as hazardous. However, you may be surprised to learn that the majority electrical fires and injuries happen around this season, all because of Christmas lighting. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that an average of 150 homes are burned, 8 people are killed, and 14 people are injured every year due to faulty holiday light installation. And we?re betting that many, many more are forced to pay for costly repairs to their electrical systems. In order to stay safe this holiday, here are some extra precautions to take before setting up your lights?from adding extra circuits, to scheduling an electrical safety inspection.?

Why Can Extra Christmas Lights Cause Fires??

When you install multiple strings of lights and light displays around your house and yard, you are subjecting your electrical system to a demand it isn?t accustomed to?and might not be equipped to handle in the first place. The average receptacle circuit in your home can handle between 15-20 amps, and most household wires can only handle 15. That means that if you try to run, for instance, 16 through over a wire that can only handle 15, the wires and the breaker may start to overheat and cause a fire.?

How to Calculate Your Electricity Demand

Given what we said above, it is important to calculate how many amps your holiday lights (and any new electrical appliances you may receive for Christmas) will draw through the wiring. You can do this by dividing the wattage number by your voltage. For example, say you plug a 1000-watt slow cooker into a 120-volt outlet. If you can only handle 15 amps, you?re getting close to the limit already. If you add anything else for a big light show, you?re very likely to overburden them.?

Other Holiday Energy Costs to Consider

So far, we?ve discussed the excess power consumed outside your home during the holidays. But what many people forget is that the power use inside the home can spike, too, especially if you are expecting guests. More friends and family members staying for the holidays mean more lamps, TVs, laptop chargers, phone chargers, hair dryers, and everything else plugged in and drawing power from the system. And the appliances you already use will likely be used more often and for longer stretches of time (for instance, more people using the oven, toaster, fridge, etc.)?

All this is why, even if you?re not planning a holiday light show that?s particularly ambitious, it?s still a good idea to schedule an electrical safety inspection before the season gets into full swing. Your Holly Springs electrician can investigate your wires and outlets and let you know if you?ll be able to safely handle the increased demand. If your system is old, in need of repair, or only ever built to handle the needs of a 1980s family, we can install an additional circuit and upgrade your electrical panel so that your utility bills stay low and you aren?t at risk for a fire or short circuit. (All this goes double for those expecting Santa to deliver a brand new stove or fridge this year!)?

Need an Electrician in Holly Springs NC? Call Alternate Current Solutions!

Our Holly Springs electricians are here to make your holiday safe, stress-free, and successful as possible. Instead of wrestling with lights, wires, circuits, and switches, just let us do it?it?s our job, after all! (We?re not saying we?ll help put up your Christmas tree…but we might be able to be talked into it.) To request an? electrical inspection in Holly Springs, click here to fill out our contact form for a free estimate!?