It’s not so with electricity. Your home may be leaking electricity (and you’re paying for it) without you or anyone knowing. It’s not too hard to find out if it is, but it isn’t apparent to the naked eye.
If your electric bill is higher than you think it should be, or if it’s changed at any one point and you suspect something is wrong, it may be time to check for leaking electricity.
The first thing to consider is any new appliances, TVs, computers and the like. Most electronic devices are on “standby” power even when they’re turned off. This means that when you turn on the switch, the product comes on instantly with no waiting even for a moment for it to warm up.
In real terms, this means that you’re paying continually, twenty four hours a day, for the 30 to 60 seconds it takes to warm up. Multiply that times however many computers, TVs, microwaves, receivers and anything else you have that uses a digital clock or a light of any kind when it’s off and you will see just how much you’re paying for that you never get to use – except for that second or two that it takes to get the appliance running when you turn it on. That’s not a very efficient use of electricity. According to Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, “almost 10% of residential electricity use” is wasted on these appliances.
To get a good visual idea of how much electricity is leaking, first check your electric meter and notice how fast it’s moving. Go back in the house and unplug everything. It won’t hurt a refrigerator or freezer to be off for a few moments. Power down computers or put laptops on batteries. Unplug the microwave, the TV, the DVD player. Go on… it won’t hurt.
When you’ve got everything unplugged, go back outside and look at the electric meter. It should be stopped. If it isn’t something is still plugged in. Go back and find it. Don’t forget the cable box, the answering machine, wired alarms, cordless phone, printer, and anything that’s plugged into a charging unit, whether it’s charging or not.
When you find it, unplug it and check to be sure the electric meter has stopped. When it stops, go back in and plug in only the refrigerator, the freezer and whatever else seems critical. (Note: TVs, stereos, radios, tuners, charging stations, cable boxes, etc… are not critical.)
Go back out and notice how fast the meter is moving. Take a mental picture of it. Quickly go back inside and plug in everything that was plugged in when you started. Don’t take the time to reset clocks or anything, just plug them in and go back out to the meter. You should see a noticable difference in how fast it’s turning. That’s how much electricity you are wasting.
Oh, yes, they’re working on it. New appliances and electronics use less electricity on standby than older ones. But American households are buying more and more electric gadgets, from fax machines to garage door openers and each one comes with a price we don’t see.