Make changes, save big on monthly electric bill

Find out your home's biggest power drainers


HOUSTON – They're called vampire electronics -- the ones that drain energy and cost you money, even when they're not turned on.

Local 2 consumer expert Amy Davis reveals which appliances and electronics are the worst offenders and how making some simple changes around your house could save you $50 a month on your electric bill.

"The TV when I'm not home, toaster oven, microwave sometimes, coffee pot, those kind of things," said Giovanna Githens. "Even my chargers for my cell phone."

It might seem excessive, but Githens said unplugging all those items saved her significant money on her electric bill.

"(From) $97 to about $46, $47 a month, so it dropped about $50 a month," said Githens

You can blame "vampire electrics."

"Things that are off but are still plugged in. Things that, out of convenience, you may leave plugged in around the house," said Tim Trudell, a spokesperson for OUC. It probably costs you about 5 percent, but percent makes a difference for a lot of people."

Energy Star said for the average person, it's more than $100 a year, or more, wasted.

For example, every month, keeping your toaster plugged in could cost you close to $1.50. Your TVs are sucking about $5 of power a month each, and your computers, just under $3 each.

The biggest culprit is your DVR box, which could cost you more than $46 a year. That's like buying a family of four movie theater tickets.

But the biggest play on your electric bill probably won't come as a surprise in Texas -- the air conditioner.

If you don't have an energy-efficient unit there are still a few things you can do to save. Keep the thermostat at 85 degrees when you're not home. This time of year, keeping it no higher than 68 will save you money. You start to see a 6 to 8 percent raise on your utility bill for each degree.

Another way to slash your bill -- double check your hot water heater. A lot of people don't realize it uses a ton of electricity. You want to make sure it's set correctly. You can get a gauge from your utility company or a home supply store to check and make sure you have it set at 120 degrees. That's optimal, so you're not wasting electricity, or risking burning yourself.

You can even turn your hot water heater off if you're going to be away for a few days or more.

You also want to make sure as many of your appliances are as energy-efficient as possible, which does include your hot water heater and air conditioner.

If you can't shell out for those pricey upgrades right now, anything at all helps, down to a few LED light bulbs. Githens said she is gradually replacing all of her apartment's bulbs with LED versions. She also said she has replaced her curtains with blackout curtains so that she can keep cool air in during the summertime-- and the hot air out.

"Not everybody can afford to do them all at once," said Githens. "We couldn't so we would buy one or two at a time."

"Maybe you can't replace anything right now, but you can use them smarter," said Trudell.

And then you watch your bill drop.

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