I love money. There you have it folks, I am being blunt: I don’t like leaking money. Call me greedy, too detail oriented, cheap or whatever, but I cannot leak money out of my budget because of laziness.
One of the things we talk here is about budget optimization. The things that people can control how much they spend on are the recurring small things: food, utilities, habits. One of these things which I intend to talk about today is utilities, specifically, electricity.
Today’s technology comes with comfort and ease of use but also with some hidden aspects, one of them being: how much electric power all electronics that sit around us actually consume when NOT in use. Here’s what I mean.
The “standby” mirage
When an electronic device remains in “standby” it doesn’t mean it is completely shut off. Things like a TV or a gaming console consume a decent amount of energy just to remain in a special state so that you can turn them on whenever you want. That level of comfort does come with a cost – the cost of energy silently and 100% inefficiently used.
Another example of how inefficient our power consumption is can be seen by looking at charging phones: Only 5% of the power drawn by a phone charger is used to charge the phone – the other 95% is wasted when it’s left plugged in.
One last example I want to focus on are smart speakers: HomePod, Google Home, Amazon Alexa – they ALL need to consume energy even when not apparently used by humans, just to be on the lookout for a voice to activate them.
For example, according to Amazon, Alexa when in networked mode uses around 3.6 watts of electricity. This mode means that Alexa is connected to the internet and is actively listening for your voice commands. If you consider this gadget has to remain on for 24/7 to be able to respond to your requests this could soon add up!
How to address this problem, save energy and money
Start by grouping the devices you’re using (eg. TV, desktop computer, charger, smart speaker etc) into a single power strip. Ideally you want to have a main switch on this power strip. When you leave home, flip that switch off and start saving moment instantly!
This not only gives you peace of mind since you’re turning off completely all power horses in your household but allows you to intelligently group devices. If you don’t want to use a button to turn things off or on, you can use a WiFi enabled main plug in conjunction with the extension cord a.k.a. What that allows you to do is to turn the main plug remotely, even when you’re not home.
I personally go with the second scenario, so in my living room I keep:
- one main power strip – I am using this one because it has surge protection as well
- one WiFi enabled plug into which I plug the power strip – I am using this one
Both are from Amazon so if you don’t like’em, return’em! In my power strip I am keeping my 65″ TV, 2 gaming consoles, my laptop charger, my iPhone charger and my Google Home smart speaker.
Since I started turning everything OFF completely when leaving from home, I’ve observed a roughly 5% reduction in my monthly electricity cost (it basically came down from $100/month to ~$95 which is amazing!