Who is Stealing Your Electricity in the Middle of the Night?

electricity thieves at work in your home or business

Have you ever had your Texas home burglarized?  Have you had someone take something out of your wallet without your permission?  Car stolen?  Anything taken from you without your permission or your knowing?  Hopefully, the answer is “No” to all of these things. That being said, you probably have had electricity wasted without you being aware of it.  The good news is that you can stop it and start saving money

What Are “Electricity Thieves”

Electricity Thieves are all the things plugged into your home now, that do not need to be. They might be devices we have now that were not available 30 years ago.  It used to be that appliances and mechanical devices did not have digital controls.  Now they do and while energy saving, it doesn’t take an electrical engineering degree to make small changes daily to reduce your power bill here in Texas where prices continue to climb.  Most appliances now have touch keypads that need to be plugged in all the time to function properly.  New technology has brought luxuries into our lives that need to be plugged in all the time in order to work.  Or do they?  These are the Electricity Thieves we want to address today for both homes and businesses and there are multiple ways to stop this Electricity theft.

Electricity Thieves can be like a monthly subscription you forgot about.  Or an app that you purchased for a monthly fee and forgot about.  You may have signed up for an app on your phone that charges monthly, and you forgot that it was charging you.  You initially were excited about the subscription or app, but soon became distracted and forgot all about it.  Meanwhile, the subscription or app continues to charge your credit card every month.   Electricity Thieves are just as discreet and often we do not see their impact on our electricity bill or how much money we are wasting on them and they can contribute to greenhouse gases which cause environmental impacts long-term.

The Us Department of Energy says that about 10% or more of your energy bill is from appliances you have “turned off”.  Crazy right?

Get this, they also say that 75% of all appliance energy use happens while the appliance is “turned off”.

What a huge waste of money!

Standby power and Electricity Leaking are Electricity Thieves

Standby power and Electricity Leaking are the same things.  They are the electricity that is wasted or energy is lost while you are not actively using the device and can increase your total energy cost.  Standby power can be used to keep a device ready to receive a remote control signal– or may it be used even when the device has no remote control needs at all.  Let’s take a closer look at which devices may be the biggest electricity thieves contributing to energy loss.

Remote Ready Electricity Leaking Appliances

The list below comes from the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory on Standby Power

They concluded that many times the power consumed by a device when it is off is just about the same as the electricity used while it is on.

Common Electrical thieves that use standby electricity.   

Most of these are easy to guess.

  • Flatscreen TVs
  • Built-In Stereos
  • Blu Ray or DVD
  • DVR with cable
  • Satellite TV box
  • Cable box
  • Video game consoles like Xbox
  • Garage door openers

Device thieves that you cannot do much about

These do not use remote controls, but have become a necessity for us and are a drain on your power system.

  • Cable modem
  • Wireless phone
  • Alarm Clock
  • Microwave
  • Oven

The Real Thieves

These last culprits are ones that you often do not think about as wasting electricity.  But they do!

  • Cell phone charger even if not charging
  • Computer LCD monitor even if turned off
  • Desktop computer even while off
  • Computer speakers
  • Laptop plugged in but not charging
  • Furnace or Air Conditioner (Heating and Cooling)
  • Inkjet printer
  • Coffee maker
  • Musical instruments
  • Gas range
  • Night light even when turned off
  • Surge protectors
  • Electrical toothbrush
  • Electric shaver
  • Inefficient Appliances

Stop the Electricity Thieves

There are several ways to cut down the thieves:

1. Try to figure out how much electricity you are wasting.

You can buy a “Kill-a-Watt energy monitor”  that tells you how much electricity each of your devices is using and save energy. To use the device, simply plug it into the wall and then plug whatever you would like into the monitor.  You will get a reading as to how much electricity that device is using and or wasting energy.

2. Address the large Electricity Wasting devices:

They are surge protectors that help you control if other devices around your TV are turned on or off.  Plug your TV into the main outlet and when your TV is turned off, it turns off standby power to the other outlets.   This way the other devices are not wasting power if your TV is turned off.  When the TV is turned on, the surge protector turns standby power on to your other devices and energy is wasted. This can start to invalidate other clean energy changes you’ve made to be more energy efficient. You may consider this approach with your computer or any other system where you have multiple devices that run in tandem with one another. This approach could save $75 per year depending on your usage – it’s like a little energy vampire stealing power.  Washing in cold water is one very easy way to save money and also using clean energy technology as much as you can such as solar.

3. Manually unplug each device every time you want to turn it off.

Although this one seems the hardest for us to do, it may be considered in combination with the other suggestions listed above.

The places most likely to use the surge protector might be:

1. Your office –  computer, monitor, speakers, modem, phone, printer, and router

2. TV setup – video game console, TV, stereo, DVR, DVD/Blu-Ray, cable box, and satellite

3. The kitchen coffee maker, microwave, toaster, oven, and range

Most of your other standalone devices can be unplugged.  Just do it!  You will be amazed at how much money you will save even from something as simple as not leaving the lights on. A light bulb that is forgotten can be a constant source of electricity drain and you’ll appreciate the savings on your Texas electric bill from changing these energy-wasting habits.

Protect your home from Electricity Thieves

Take a tour of your home.  You will be amazed at how many things are constantly plugged in.  Each device wasting electricity and your money and taxing the electrical grid more than it needs to be.  Take special note of all the phone chargers and similar devices.  Even when not charging your phone, they are wasting your electricity and costing you money.  Every time you see a standalone device plugged in, ask yourself it needs to remain plugged in.  Perhaps you can unplug it and save money, or at the very least switch to more efficient and energy-star-rated appliances and devices.

Now is the time to remove the Electricity Thieves from your home.  Invest in some smart power surge protectors, led lights instead of incandescent bulbs, and make a habit to unplug devices and your pocketbook will thank you and you’ll benefit from smart home technology.