Unplugging: All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

I have heard that various appliances, chargers, and electronics use electricity when they are plugged in even if they are “off.” For this reason I try to unplug things in my apartment when I know I will be gone for an extended period of time. The video below claims that 75% of the energy consumed by many electronic devices occurs when they are off but plugged in.

This article from the New York Times recounts the results from a study done by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the Department of Energy. The study confirms that electronics use extra wattage when plugged in even though they are off. There is also a link within the article to a table that displays the estimated excess wattage used by various common household electronics.

The amount of energy used by these idle appliances is very small, however when magnified by billions of people, the amount of electricity that could be saved is more than significant. I plan on making “unplugging things” part of my routine in the morning and night. We leave things plugged in because it is an inconvenience to have to plug in our lamp or toaster every time we want to use it. If everyone could make unplugging become a habit then the collective effect could greatly impact society.


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4 thoughts on “Unplugging: All the Cool Kids Are Doing It”

  1. I think this is a great simple way to use a small task like unplugging unused appliances to make a huge difference in the world. If everyone even in office spaces in the world, then I think we would have a much more sustainable earth with low environmental impact. My question would be: How we can get individuals to actually participate in this because this seems more like a change in mindset and behavior?


  2. Unplugging electronics and appliances is such a simple thing to do, yet hardly any of us actually do it. I think by making this a part of your lifestyle will have a ripple effect on anyone you live with, because it will encourage them to make it part of their daily routine as well. If even a few people made this conscious choice and influenced others that they lived with, especially here at Bucknell since we often have different roommates each year, the simple activity of unplugging will spread and become a more common habit. I have started to do the same sort of activity with my roommates except with making sure all the lights are turned off when we are not around. This was my goal and now I am experiencing my roommates doing this without me having to remind them anymore. This could definitely be a successful ripple effect that could have a substantial impact.


  3. Just a thought after watching the video – would constantly turning applicances or electronics on or off so they have to reboot be just as inefficient as leaving said appliances on? Is there a way to know how much electricity or power is being used in different activities involving our electronics (powering down, powering up, leaving on)? I’ve heard that Iphones or Macbook battery life declines with each power down and reboot. Not sure if you have heard or read similar things.


  4. This is the perfect example of a small thing that people can do to make a big difference on a larger scale. The key is definitely to get large scale adoption, which would be tough. Maybe there could be some sort of invention to stop energy wasting even when products are left plugged in.


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