Andrew Smyser

Do You Know What's Using Energy in Your Home?

Andrew Smyser |

At 3AM do you know what is using energy in your home?  Most people imagine that when they turn off the lights and go to bed, most of their electrical use stops. A growing portion of the average electric bill is coming from devices that we are not even using. Miscellaneous Electrical Load (MEL) refers to the various electronics and devices that use electricity (not major appliances, lighting, and HVAC). Those items like your cable box, microwave oven with clock or wireless router spend most of their time on standby but consume electricity all the time.  Studies find that this small constant usage from a growing number of devices are now adding up to between 12 and 27 % of the average monthly electric bill.

The MEL problem is getting worse. It is both growing in size and especially as percentage of our bills. As appliances and HVAC equipment become more efficient, the miscellaneous devices become a larger portion of electrical demand. The nature of technology and how people use it is also causing MEL to grow. The average home has 40 products constantly drawing power.

The nature of “internet everywhere” does not seem to be going away so how can we minimize this miscellaneous load? The largest step will be a policy change that gets manufacturers to make more energy efficient devices. This is starting to happen and items like the cable boxes coming out in the next year will be significantly more efficient than the one on your TV currently. Savings at home can best be found by being aware. Unplug or use power strips to stop the slow drain from devices that do not need to be on standby. Each device you are able to disconnect when not in use will be electricity that your devices are not stealing from you.