9 Eco-Challenge: Unplugging to Save

For the past 3 months I have been unplugging our cable box every night because I read that cable boxes can use as much power as a fridge. I have to admit that I was skeptical that ours uses that much since we don't have a PVR or HD box or anything like that. But I wanted to give it a try just in case our cable box was a energy sucking beast.

Turns out it isn't. 

I looked at our hydro bills for the past 3 years and here are the results.

Nov 1 - Dec 17 2009: 653.34 kWh (hello mat leave)
Nov 1 - Dec 16 2010: 598.04 kWh
Nov 1 - Dec 16 2011: 561.48 kWh

The difference between 2010 and 2011 (similar years vs 2009 when I was home on mat leave) is 36.56 kWh. We have billing that is based on Off Peak, Mid Peak and On Peak hours so having the cable box unplugged from say 10PM - 5PM would mean we were hitting the Off Peak and On Peak hours. Because of this I used the Mid Peak cost to calculate how much we saved by unplugging the cable box for 2 months. 


That doesn't include the delivery charge, regulatory charges, debt retirement charges or tax so when you add that on it is a whopping $6.64. Which is 5.5% of our total bill. I'll be honest...it isn't worth it. It was easy unplugging it but plugging it back in and having to wait for it to start back up and get its signal was a huge pain. It would take a good 15 minutes to be back to normal. And when you have a toddler those 15 minutes are like 15 years.

If anyone has a PVR I would love to see you do a challenge similar to this and see what results you get. 

Tonight our cable box will remain plugged in and Joe is about a kajillion times happier because of it. With these results would you keep unplugging your box each night?

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  1. I always wondered that myself if it is worth it. I am constantly unplugging things around our house simple like the toaster, or coffee maker. It drives my husband crazy he thinks it doesn't make a difference but in my head I think so. I heard about this alarm system I was telling my hubby about where you can hook it up to your Iphone & as a added bonus you can unplug or disconnect anything at your house. For the life of me I can't remember what it was called but it doesn't matter it was nixed as sillyness! :) Thanks for the post. I am newly trying to go green by doing one big thing a year. It's not so overwhelming that way! New follower!

  2. It is interesting hearing the final results of this experiment. I bet Joey is very happy it is over. Now are you going to permanently keep it plugged in?

  3. I am going to keep unplugging it until the 16th, which would be the end of the next bill. I want to see if being unplugged for 9 full days while we were away did anything at all.

  4. @Heather - I think all the little things could add up but there is a time component to it and what is that worth? It would be cool if houses were 'smart' and you could hit one switch to turn off all those non essential items.

    Thanks for following! Would love to hear what your one big thing is for this year.

  5. I stumbled your post! Thank you for posting about the savings. I have been unplugging/replugging and my husband has done nothing, but complain. He was happy to read that you thought it was not worth it. :)

  6. Joe was also very happy with the results!

  7. stumbled via super sunday su hop.

  8. We also tried unplugging our appliances, and while we've happily adapted to some (microwave, electric kettle, router), the one behind the DVD player is really, really hard to reach -- and we decided to compromise and leave it in. Compromise is inevitable, and in this case, the gains don't outweigh the aggravation. Found you through the Reduce Footprints bloghop, though I think I've been here before!

  9. Wow, I'm so glad that you charted it out like that! It's too bad that it wasn't saving you more...but good that you found out that it's no big deal to leave things plugged in! I'm stumbling by from the Super Sunday Stumble Hop at Why We Love Green! -Christine