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Is it Worth Unplugging Electrical Goods Overnight?

Most households have numerous electrical appliances hooked up to the mains all day every day. The majority of these will be using barely a watt or two of energy and so will have a negligible effect on your energy bill.

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However, some appliances do use up a fair dose of electricity even when on stand-by. So, if you are keen to save money on your energy bill, check out our

guide to which electrical appliances to unplug overnight

The fridge

According to The Daily Telegraph a fridge freezer on average costs £23.50 in energy a year, making it one of the most costly appliances to run so…

Does unplugging my fridge freezer overnight save money?

Short answer, no. Turning off your fridge freezer will, obviously, cause the temperature inside to rise (which also raises serious food hygiene concerns) so — when you turn it back on again — it will have to use extra energy to get itself back to a suitably cool temperature.

Better ways to make your fridge more energy efficient include

  1. Setting it to an efficient temperature
    Optimum fridge temperature is between 2 and 5 ˚C and optimum freezer temperature is -18 ˚C.
    Clean and dust the ventilation on the back of the fridge and make sure there is plenty of space (at least 10 cm) between your fridge and the wall to allow air to circulate, this will ensure it is at its working best.A photo (by Brian Patrick Tagalog on Unsplash) of a double US electric plug socket
  2. Regularly clean and defrost your freezer to make sure it is working efficiently.
  3. Keep your fridge in a cool part of the kitchen away from strong sunlight.
  4. I know it sounds obvious but don’t keep the fridge door open for long periods when getting food out as this means it then has to work harder to keep cool.

If your fridge is very old it might be worth investing in a newer A +++ model to improve its energy saving capabilities.

So what electrical items are worth unplugging?

According to the Berkeley Lab on average in developed countries 5 to 10 per cent of residential energy is wasted on keeping appliances on stand-by mode.

If you really want to geek-out this excellent table shows the relative amount of electricity each appliance uses, revealing that televisions and satellite TV boxes are some of the worst energy/money-gulping culprits.

Electrical items you can save money by unplugging

  • Desktop computers
  • Laptops
  • Games consoles (especially if they have a wifi connection)
  • Cable/satellite/freeview TV box
  • Television
  • Phone chargers
  • Printers
  • Microwave

Conclusion

Alan Meier (who wrote that Berkley Lab table we cited above) has estimated that ‘vampire energy use‘ (electricity used by appliances when in ‘stand-by’ mode) accounts for about 5% in the average household.

Given the average UK household energy bill is over £1,138 per year, that 5% adds up to £56.90 per year.

If, like us, you live in a household with above average energy consumption (multiple mobile phones and chargers, laptops, TV, wifi boxes etc.) your annual bill — and also your potential saving — could be higher.

Unplugging the above items overnight will not save a substantial amount of money.

However, if you use it as part of a wider strategy to save energy (such as switching to more energy efficient products, turning off lights when not in a room, using more energy efficient bulbs etc.) then it can pay off long term, ultimately reducing your annual energy bill.

And you’ll be helping to save the planet at the same time.

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