Today’s appliances are miracles of modern technology. Tucked away in every possible nook and cranny of your home, though useful, when left plugged in they represent a double-edged sword of issues, driving up your electric bill with phantom power usage, and increasing fire risk in your home. To keep your home and family safe – not to mention your budget – ensure both fire prevention and savings with one simple solution: Unplug it.
Small Appliances = A Big Deal
It’s estimated most homes harbor an average of 40 appliances, constantly using power, comprising around 10% of the average energy bill. This glut of stand-by appliances also presents a fire hazard, even when not in use. Though human error plays a role, studies by Consumer Reports show only about half of appliance fires are attributable to human mistakes – the rest due to issues with the appliances themselves. From 2007 to 2012, more than 15 million appliances were recalled by the CPSC and manufacturers for defects that could result in fire. Of all the appliances you are surrounded by in your home, which should you unplug – and why?
Unplug for Efficiency!
- Small kitchen appliances
Though kitchen appliances such as your refrigerator and dishwasher are unwise and/or impossible to unplug, today’s digital versions of coffee makers, microwaves, and food processors are constantly sucking down energy.
Chargers for phones, laptops, toothbrushes, and more add to your electric bill every minute they’re not actually in-use. Once you’re back up to full power – unplug the device – and the charger too!
- Entertainment system
Entertainment systems are among the top energy vampires in your home. Blinking LED indicators, clocks, and more use quite a bit of energy. While it’s not practical to unplug them every time, a power strip can make saving energy while you’re out of town – or away at work – a practical alternative.
Stand-by, sleep mode, and screen savers don’t offer much power savings for your computer. When your computer is not in use, unplug it – not just for energy savings, but to protect it from hard drive frying power surges.
Unplug for Safety!
From 2002-2009, the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) identified more than 69,000 fires in which an appliance was the primary cause. Some of these were recalled products – a sobering reminder as to why it’s important to register products. (Hint: it’s not the warranty.) Additionally, today’s digital appliances are subject to electromagnetic interference from mobile devices, yet another reason to go unplugged for fire prevention. Top safety offenders include:
- Small kitchen appliances
You’re not seeing double. In addition to being energy hogs, small kitchen appliances such as toasters and coffee makers also pose a safety risk when not in-use. Circuit boards and electric contacts fail, and remaining food can catch afire - as can overheated cords.
Some models have been known to turn themselves on when not in use. And unattended cooking in microwaves is a common fire-starter.
Lithium ion batteries, faulty circuit board components, and improper charging methods can cause everything from phones, laptops, and personal devices to wearable tech, cameras, and dust busters to go up in smoke.
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