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Do Smart Plugs Use A Lot of Electricity? Or Just a Little?

Smart Plug Electricity

In addition to the convenience factor, smart plugs are supposed to save you money by reducing energy usage, right? They may do that by reducing the on time of the device they are powering, but is that offset by the amount of electricity the smart plug consumes?


Do smart plugs use a lot of electricity? Smart plugs themselves do not use a lot of electricity. Smart plugs use approximately 1 Watt of power when in stand-by mode. That results in an energy usage of 8.76 kWh over the course of a year.


Alright, you have a basic idea of how much electricity a smart plug consumes, but let’s break it down a little bit further. Let’s also explore some ways that we can save more electricity by using a smart plug.

Smart Plug Energy Usage

Smart Plug Connection TypeStand-by Power Consumption
Wi-Fi1.0-2.0 Watts
ZigBee0.3-0.6 Watts
Z-Wave0.3-0.5 Watts

One watt really is not a whole lot of power. Think about it. Your energy bills are measured in Kilowatts, that is 1000’s of Watts!

Take a look at your last energy bill. You probably used more than 8.76 kWh in a single day.

A single watt (1 W) is about the amount of power a single miniature Christmas lightbulb consumes. Just one!

In fact, using a smart plug to control Christmas lights is probably a good idea to use less electricity. Here are ways that smart plugs can be used to reduce power.

Smart Plugs Use Less Energy Than Phantom Loads

Phantom loads are the electricity a device uses when not in use. These are sometimes referred to as vampire power.

Think about the things you have plugged in around your house. A couple TVs, kitchen appliances, washer & dryer, and the list goes on and on.

These items are all using just a tiny amount of power even while you are not using them, and that power starts to add up since the average household has over 40 devices plugged in, according to energystar.gov

In research conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and CLEAResult, it’s estimated that using smart plugs to cut phantom power saves between 1 – 4.58% of energy usage, or 500 – 1000 Kilowatts.

That’s like getting a month of energy free, depending how big your house is and how much power you use in a year.

Here’s a table from the National Renewable Energy Laboratories research showing how much each smart device will help you save money. Notice smart plugs are in second place!

Common Uses to Lower Electricity Consumption with Smart Plugs

Now that you know that smart plugs do not use a whole lot of power, here are some ways to save power by using them. Some ways that will help you lower phantom loads around your house.

Game Consoles

Those gaming systems are a big hog when it comes to consuming power even when turned off. The XBOX 360 S uses almost 2 watts in stand-by. Also consider if these devices are plugged into the same power strip as a TV.

Power usage jumps considerably when the unit is turned on. The PS3 uses 75 watts when turned on and idle. Make sure to only turn game consoles on when your using them!

TV & Home Entertainment

Modern TVs actually do a good job at regulating stand-by power, with some models using half a watt or less. However, consider older models, which will probably use more. Also, consider the home entertainment.

Have you ever felt one of those receivers even when it is just sitting there? Those things are always warm when they are on, meaning they’re eating up unnecessary watts

Countertop Appliances

A lot of these gadgets will actually use next to nothing as far as phantom power goes, but find the ones displays or lights. Those will always be drawing at least some power when plugged in.

Tips for Reducing Hidden Power Consumption

Review your Energy Consumption

We live in the modern age. Utility companies ae now able to provide hourly data of our home energy consumption. Remember those “Smart Meters” being in the news? This is where they come in handy.

Look at your hourly usage at hours when you are away from home and don’t have anything like a dryer running or the A/C cooling down the house. You will get a pretty good idea of how much energy your home is consuming just by things that are plugged in.

Identify Energy Consuming Devices

Take a walk through your house and note everything that is plugged in.

You might want to actually write them down. Remember how early I said the average household has over 40 devices plugged in? That’s a lot to have in a mental note.

Identify which devices are consuming energy when “turned-off”. If you need help, some smart plugs have a feature that measures power consumption of the device plugged into it.

Alternatively, there is a popular device called the Kill-O-Watt. This device plugs into the wall, and then the device you want to measure plugs into the Kill-O-Watt.

There will be some devices that consume energy that you just have to have plugged in, like the refrigerator. Please don’t try to save money by unplugging that when you’re not home.

Group Devices on to One Smart Plug

If reducing energy consumption by using a smart plug is your goal, this is the key right here.

Modern devices do a great job of using little phantom power. Everyone wants to have that Energy Star rating so they can potentially sell more product.

The problem is that we have so many devices plugged in around the house. If you can group those items to a power strip, and plug that into a smart plug, you can save power.

As a result, you’ll save money on your monthly bills.

The TV and all its gadgets are a good place to start. Next, there is the home office, with the printer, chargers, computer, and more. You probably want to keep your modem and router powered separately, so you can actually control your smart devices, including the smart plugs.

Related Questions

Do Smart Plugs Save Money?

Smart plugs do have the potential to save you money if used correctly. According to research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, smart plugs can result in an energy savings of up to 4.58%. Saving energy directly results in saving money.

Do Smart Plugs Use Energy When Off?

Smart plugs consume about 1 Watt when turned off and in stand-by mode. Wi-Fi Smart Plugs consume 1-2 watts. ZigBee Smart Plugs consume between .3 – .6 Watts. Z-Wave Smart Plugs consume about .4 Watts when idle.