Every week we bring you a simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. This week: how turning appliances off at the wall socket saves energy and money.

Technology and appliances have come a long way in recent times – even the biggest TVs and most feature-laden white goods come with energy efficiency measures built in, which means minimal effort on your part when it comes to managing their energy consumption.

But there’s always room for improvement, and one thing many of us are guilty of is leaving chargers and appliances plugged in when we’re not using them. Even if the device isn’t switched on? – and even if it’s already touted as being energy efficient – it’s still drawing power from the socket. That’s power that’s being wasted – and that you’re paying for!

According to the Energy Saving Trust, households could save £30 per person per year if residents took the time to switch things off at the wall when they weren’t being used. This includes things such as phone chargers, fans, hair styling appliances, TVs and sound systems – there are, of course, some goods and devices which can’t be turned off, such as set-top boxes, routers and fridges.

But it’s no mean feat breaking the habits of a lifetime, and besides, most of our technology and appliances are positioned in such a way as to make turning things off at the wall a complicated exercise in stretching and exasperation! So what can be done?

Embrace the extension lead

Plug related appliances together on a multi-socket adaptor or extension lead, such as the computer and printer, or the TV and DVD player. This way you only have to remember to flick one switch when you’re done using them.

Use a standby saver

Standby savers – also called energy-saving plugs – work with a remote control. The device is plugged in between the appliance and the socket, and with the flick of the remote control button, it blocks power from moving through the socket to the appliance. These are really handy if your plug sockets are tucked away behind furniture, as you only need to access them once to install the saver.

Put your computer into sleep mode

Screen savers do precisely nothing when it comes to saving power – they are simply just another program that needs energy to run. Instead, take the time to figure out how to set an automatic sleep mode for your computer – every 10 or 15 minutes works for most people. And learn how to put your computer into sleep mode manually, too. That way if you know you’ll be away from it for a while you can save power using an easy keyboard shortcut.

Don’t charge your phone overnight

Battery power in mobile phones has come a long way since the early days of those brick-like handsets. Most phones will charge in a matter of hours, while newer models support fast charging that’ll juice them up in even less time, so leaving them plugged in overnight is just a waste of energy.

Be mode mindful

A lot of newer appliances these days come with additional energy-saving features that usually have to be initiated by the user, so it’s worth taking the time to find out if any of your gadgets boast these functions. The Xbox One, for example, guzzles a hefty 11.1 watts when left in its ‘Instant On’ standby mode. Switch it to its energy-saving standby mode and this drops to just 0.3 watts. When you purchase new appliances in the future, look for these kind of features as well as overall energy efficiency performance.

Shutting down standby power makes a small change, but if we all do it then it can add up to a big change – and that’s what’ll make a real difference to climate change and so to all of us.

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