Do Plugged in Appliances Use Electricity When Off?


This article is your guide to answering the question of does unplugging your appliances save electricity? As we becoming increasingly dependent on technology and electricity, consumers are looking for ways to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint. Many people do not know that doing something as simple as unplugging your appliances can save you a couple of bucks.

We’ll examine the factors to consider, explore which appliances consume standby power, and provide insights into whether or not unplugging can truly lead to notable energy and cost savings. Let’s shed light on whether unplugging appliances is an effective strategy in our quest for a greener, more sustainable future. So, if you’re wanting to answer the question of do plugged in appliances use electricity, keep reading!

Here at The Energy Professor, we want to give you the information you need to not only save money on your energy bill, but to also become more energy efficient. We hope find this post helpful! And makes it easier for you to know more about appliance energy usage. Be sure to also check out our one of a kind energy savings calculator!

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Do Appliances Use Electricity When Plugged in but Turned Off?

Yes, many appliances use vampire energy, which is when devices continue to draw power even when they’re turned off. Devices such as televisions, game consoles, computers, kitchen appliances have standby power consumption. When you turn off your appliances, such as your TV or computer, it’s worth noting that they may still consume a small amount of electricity even in standby mode. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, standby power can account for up to 10% of residential electricity usage. While the power consumed in standby mode is generally lower than when the appliance is actively in use, it’s important to be aware of this “vampire power” as it can accumulate over time and contribute to your overall energy consumption and electricity costs.

Which appliances use the most electricity when plugged in but turned off?

There are appliances that draw more electricity when turned off, such as televisions, game consoles, computers and chargers. Modern TVs often have features like instant-on capability, standby power for remote control functionality, and network connectivity, all of which contribute to higher standby power consumption. When you’re looking for a speedy start-up for your video game and put it in standby mode, it surprisingly consumes a significant amount of power.

  • Televisions TV Standby power consumption can range from 0.5 watts to 20 watts depending on the TV.
  • Game Consoles – Game consoles typically consume standby power in the range of 1 watt to 10 watts, depending on the model.
  • Computers – Desktop computers can consume around 2 watts to 6 watts (0.002 kWh to 0.006 kWh per hour), while laptops generally range from 0.5 watts to 3 watts (0.0005 kWh to 0.003 kWh per hour).

Related post: How Much Energy Do Gaming Computers Use?

Does Leaving Things Plugged in Use Electricity?


Yes, leaving some appliances plugged in, whether they are on or off, use electricity. Your phantom energy load, or the energy your appliances draw when not in use but plugged, could be costing you up to $5 a month in electricity charges! While stand-by mode is great by allowing fast startups, there is a drawback with electricity usage.

Does a plugged in charger use electricity?

Yes, a plugged in charger uses electricity and will draw energy even when not connected to a device. When a charger is plugged into an electrical outlet, it will draw small traces of electricity to be ready for a device. While charges do draw electricity, it is very minimal, but it is still smart to unplug any charger when not directly in use.

Does leaving lamps plugged in use electricity?

Yes, leaving a lamp plugged in but turned off will still use small amounts of energy. Lamps have a standby mode that allow there to be no lag when someone turns the lamp on. Especially if your lamp has a timer, sensor, clock or other element that would still draw electricity when the light bulb is off.

Related post: Complete Guide to the Best Electricity Saving Devices for Homes

How to Reduce Electricity Use For Appliances Plugged in But Not Turned On


Now that we’ve learned that plugged in appliances still draw power even when they’re off, you might be wondering how we can reduce those costs. It is as simple as changing your daily habit, like unplugging devices when you aren’t directly using them. Which, can seem like a hefty task if you have multiple televisions, computers and other devices that draw vampire energy.

Luckily, there are super simple tricks, like keeping all of your power drawing devices on a power strip that you can turn off at night. There are even new power strips that you can control from your smartphone, or by voice command – like Alexa.

How to save energy with vampire appliances?

  • Unplug unused appliances – Only leave appliances plugged in when you’re using them. This is the most effective way to eliminate standby power consumption entirely. Consider unplugging devices like phone chargers, kitchen appliances, entertainment systems, and lamps when they are not needed.
  • Use power strips – Utilize power strips that have an on/off switch. Connect multiple devices to a single power strip and switch it off when the devices are not in use. This makes it easier to cut off power to multiple appliances with a single action.
  • Consider timers – Use timers or smart plugs to schedule the operating hours of certain appliances. For example, you can set a timer to turn on your coffee maker a few minutes before you wake up and turn it off automatically when you’re done.
  • Choose Energy Efficient Appliances – When purchasing new appliances, opt for models with Energy Star ratings or other energy-efficient certifications. Energy-efficient appliances are designed to consume less electricity overall, including when they are in standby mode.
  • Be mindful of device settings – Some appliances and devices have power-saving features or settings that can help reduce energy consumption. For example, you can adjust the power settings on your computer to enable sleep mode after a certain period of inactivity.

Does unplugging things save electricity?

Yes, unplugging your devices will save you electricity. There are actually quite a lot of appliances that still continue to draw power even when off. The NRDC suggests that an average American household could save up to $100 to $200 per year by unplugging electronics and appliances when not in use. That is quite a lot of money when you think about how simple it is to unplug a device when you are not using it.

Related post: How Many Watts Does a Stove Use?

Does Unplugging Appliances Save Electricity FAQ

Q: Does a microwave use electricity when plugged in?

Yes, microwaves use electricity when plugged in and not in use. Similar to other appliances, microwaves often have standby or clock functions that require a small amount of power to operate. This power is used to maintain the display, clock settings, and any other features that need power even when the microwave is not actively heating food.

Q: Do plugged in appliances use electricity when off?

Yes, most appliances use electricity when plugged in and off. Leaving certain appliances plugged in, whether they are turned on or off, results in the consumption of electricity.  Surprisingly, this energy usage can contribute to an additional cost of up to $5 per month on your electricity bill. While standby mode is convenient for quick startups, it’s important to be aware of the drawback it presents in terms of electricity consumption.

Q: Does unplugging appliances save energy?

A: Yes, unplugging appliances does save energy. In a study conducted by LBNL, researchers found that unplugging idle electronics and appliances in a typical American home could save an average of 8% to 10% of residential electricity use. Therefore, we always suggest unplugging any device that you do not have in use.

Do you Need Cheaper Electricity?

If you’ve taken the time to understand the information on your bill and discovered you’re paying more than you’d like for your electricity, have you looked around for a cheaper deal? The Energy Professor has a wealth of information on ways to save on your utilities, including details of top deals that could significantly reduce your monthly or quarterly electricity bills.

We hope you found this article helpful! If you are looking for ways to increase the energy efficiency and sustainability in your home be sure to take a look at all of the latest renewable energy options in your area. The Energy Professor helps residential and small business owners find qualified energy suppliers in New YorkNew JerseyPennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts

Nik Chapman

Nik Chapman is the Chief Editor of The Energy Professor with lifelong passion for studying and exploring the natural environment. Nik has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences and Biology and has specialized in work with Green Energy, Renewable Energy and Environmental Justice. Nik has worked directly with small communities and nonprofits to help make environmental education more accessible for everyone. Nik currently lives in Washington State and enjoys tide pooling on the Oregon Coast and taking hikes to local waterfalls!