You've probably heard that one of the easiest ways to save money is by removing appliances from outlets before you leave your house — but does unplugging things save money? We did some digging, and the simple answer is yes. That said, it's up to you to decide whether the money you'll save is worth the potential hassle of checking every room every time you want to go out.
One argument against unplugging everything when you leave is that the "energy vampires" in your home — aka things like your TV, phone chargers, and your kids' gaming systems that are always plugged in — don't use that much electricity. The amount you would save as a result of unplugging them wouldn't be significant. Of course, "significant" is a subjective term.
That brings us to our next question: How much money do you save by unplugging things? Well, the Department of Energy estimates that the appliances and electronics you leave plugged in equate to a five to eight percent loss of a single family's annual electricity usage — which is basically your energy bill for one month. How would you like to save an entire month's energy bill? We certainly would!
If that amount feels significant to you, there are some simple things you can do to make saving energy even easier. The first step is to buy a bunch of power strips ($8.99 for two, Amazon). Instead of unplugging each individual cord, you can simply flip the power button off and shut off electricity to multiple appliances all at once. There are even smart power strips ($26.99, Amazon) that you can turn on and off using an app on your phone after you've left the house, which is super convenient for forgetful people.
Next, go out and buy an electricity usage monitor ($19.55, Amazon). This handy little gadget will tell you what devices are big energy suckers so you'll remember to unplug them when you leave.
A more expensive option (but one that's ultimately better in the long run) is to invest in energy-efficient appliances. If you're looking for a new washing machine, dryer, or refrigerator, check the Energy Star rating before you buy. This symbol lets you know that the machine you're looking at meets criteria set by the US Environmental Protection Agency or the US Department of Energy to be considered energy-efficient.