Unplug Your Cell Phone Charger to Save Energy

By Kristin Withak

You may think keeping chargers for things like cell phones, iPods, hand-held devices, laptops and the like waste such a tiny amount of electricity that it’s not worth remembering to unplug them. Or, maybe you didn’t even know that when you unplug your cell phone (etc.) from its charger, the charger is still drawing power. It’s true! Only 5 percent of the power drawn by a cell phone charger is used to charge the phone. The other 95 percent is wasted when it is left plugged into the wall.

You may be thinking your single charger uses such a small amount of energy, but with the US having an estimated 190 million devices with rechargeable batteries, combined stand-by usage of all those cell phone chargers, each drawing a measly watt, could add up to 190 megawatts per day. That’s enough to power approximately 100,000 homes.

Keeping chargers for items that require their battery to be recharged plugged in when not attached to the item (or even after it has fully charged the battery) consumes about 6 percent of the nation’s electric bill. This is a bad habit that can slowly add up to a lot of wasted energy, and yet can be so easy to break the habit by just remembering to unplug your devices and plugs once the battery is fully charged. Spread the word! Think about how much energy can be saved if everyone did just this one little thing.

In the same vein (and this may be shocking), unused appliances plugged into the electrical outlet continue to draw electricity while the products are turned off, and in the average home nearly 75 percent of all electricity used to power electronics is consumed by products that are switched off. VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances all use energy while not in use. The best way to help cut costs and electric use is to get a power cord that can be switched off when appliances are not in use. You’ll save the energy equivalent of a 100-watt light bulb that is always on.

Rough equivalent: 100W light bulb @ 8,760 hrs/year
Electricity: $.10/kWh
Total energy cost: $87.60
Cost of power strip: $4.00
Total energy savings: $83.60
Total CO2 savings: 1,217 lbs