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Install a power strip

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Even in idle mode, computers draw electricity, called a phantom load. Installing a power strip makes the process of turning off electronics far easier.

Find it! Power strips

What are the culprit devices? Those that have remote controls, timers, instant-on features, clocks, microprocessors, and memories are all affected.

Before you buy

Power strips make the most sense where you've got a group of electronics or appliances close together, like all the power cords used for your TV, set-top boxes, DVDs, your stereo system, or computer set up. Read the owner's manuals first, especially with TVs, to make sure really being turned off won't affect the product performance. Some TVs may need to remain plugged in so they can download program guides. If one device must be kept on, plug it into a wall outlet or separate power strip.

Installing power strips help you go green because...

  • By pushing the switch to off on your power strips, you'll reduce or eliminate your household's phantom electricity load.

American households use about 43 billion kWh of electricity annually to power appliances and electronics that are turned off.[1] This stealthy electricity use sends more than 87 billion pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide sky high annually and costs Americans almost $6 billion each year.[2]

On an individual basis, vampire energy amounts to approximately 5 to 10 percent of a home's electricity use.[2] That may not sound like a lot, but if you could get back that 10 percent of electricity that gets sucked from the power grid, it would be like getting a month or so of free electricity.[3] Or it would be like keeping the pollution from more than 6 million cars out of the air.[4]

Chargers for all kinds of devices, including cell phones, digital cameras, iPods, and other music players and power tools, use power as long as they're plugged in. Among the biggest offenders are cable boxes, dishwashers, security systems, DVDs, VCRs, and televisions.[4] Americans spend $750 million on electricity use in televisions that are turned off.[1] In a typical US home, a quarter of the electricity used to juice up electronics is expended during the products' down time.[5]

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