Should We Be Unplugging Our Electronics?

Reader Contribution by Naquela Pack
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Here in the Midwest, outside of Oklahoma, we don’t really see many power surges and/or outages. When I was living in Thailand I noticed that everyone unplugs everything after they’ve used it. The TV, coffee machine, fans, and cell phone chargers all get unplugged, no matter how inconvenient it is. It didn’t really seem like an inconvenience to them either, simply a way of life, a habit.  I was curious to the reasons for doing this and what were all the benefits.

In Thailand I did experience a fair share of power surges and once one of the electrical boxes at the school I was teaching at caught fire. So, I knew that unplugging things can help to prevent fires but is that it? I reached out to my social media community and found that a friend, Robin, unplugs anything with a light or display, saving her 40% on her monthly bill. 

My tv and cable box are pictured plugged in and then unplugged. I have become more aware of being intentional about unplugging them when I leave home or before I go to bed, along with other devices in the kitchen that have a light or display. 

Watts, Watt-hours, and Kilowatt-hours

Lets remember the distinction between watts (W) and kilowatt-hours (kWh). A watt is a unit of power (1 horsepower = 746 watts).  Here is an example, a 100-watt light bulb uses twice as much power at any given moment as a 50-watt bulb. To determine how much electricity the light bulb consumes, we need to know how long the light was left on (watts x hours) to get Kilowatt-hours, simply divide the watt-hours then by 1000. 

  • Watt and Kilowatt-hour (kWh)
  • Your electricity provider charges you 11 cents ($.11) per kWh.
  • You have an Electric Heater that consumes 1500 watts (1.5kw). You use the Electric Heater for 3 hours everyday.
  • For 3 hours it will cost you 1.5kw x 3hours = 4.5kWh x .11 = .495 cents (50 cents)
  • Over a month it will cost you .495 x 30days = $14.85


Now that may not sound like a significant amount at first but it adds up, fast. Especially when on average we each have about 40 products constantly drawing power according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL). Look around you. What is plugged in?

Individually, the electricity flowing to a TV that’s been turned off or a microwave is extremely small, but together, these sleeping devices may account for as much as 10% of household energy use [source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory].

However, because so many devices have become computer-controlled, everything from your washer to your toaster oven to your hot water heater is benefiting from those efficiency gains, sometimes reducing standby power by as much as 90%. [source:Reviewed] Revealing to me that watching the products standby power consumption is important. Replacing older appliances with newer, more efficient models (ones with the Energy Star) allows you to get a return on your investment too. It’s a wise purchase. Changing any incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, which use less energy and last longer is wise too. 

It feels good to incorporate intentional practices to decrease my household energy consumption and to see a decline in the utility bill is helpful during these times. 

NaQuela Packis a volunteer manager, TEFL teacher, mindfulness facilitator, reiki practitioner, community advocate, and nonprofit board member in Wichita, Kan. Following a year living in Thailand, where Naquela researched the science of mindfulness in adults and in youth in the public education system, created the virtual spaceInsight 2 Heal a platform to connect and expand mindfulness, movement, and self-care practices. Connect with NaQuela on Facebookand with Insight 2 Heal onFacebookandInstagram. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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