Devices with a so-called standby mode that sap power even when they aren't in use can account for 10 percent of your electricity costs.How to spot it:
If it has an indicator light, a charger or AC power adapter on the cord, or a digital clock, it's a phantom. When in doubt, plug the device into a Kill A Watt detector (shown below, $22; amazon.com
), which measures exactly how much power is being drawn from the outlet when the device is supposedly "off." How to stop it:
Put phone chargers, the flat-screen TV, and computer and stereo equipment on power strips. "That way you can easily flip a switch and cut power directly from the outlet before going to bed," says energy consultant John Meeks of AppleBlossom Energy in Concord, North Carolina. Plug devices that are best left on 24/7 directly into dedicated surge protectors, he says; your DVR, for instance, needs power to record programs when you aren't around to watch them. And if you get phone service through the Internet, you'll want to keep your router juiced, too.The payoff:
Save $55 a year just by cutting standby power to your DVD-VCR player, stereo tuner and CD player, and video-game console.Tip:
To cut your dishwasher's energy usage in half, pull out the racks after the final rinse cycle and let your dishes air-dry.