The Appliance Dilemma: How Toasters Are Increasing Your Energy Bill

Kamran Yunus/ Staff Illustrator

Kamran Yunus
Staff Writer

Johnny absolutely loves toast. The crunchy surface, crispy edges and warm innards of the bread all tantalize his taste buds. He chews with delight as the hair on his arm stands erect and his eyes roll upwards in ecstasy from the slice of heaven that is being dismantled in his mouth. Since Johnny has this undying infatuation for toast, he has his toaster plugged into an outlet on his kitchen table 24/7.

Johnny was living the good life until he discovered a dark rumor plaguing his toaster’s existence. As he was scrolling down his Facebook feed, Johnny stumbled across an article, and the title of the article shattered his heart into microscopic, blistering pieces. He whispered the words of the title as a warm tear glided across his red cheeks: “Toasters and other appliances waste electricity when plugged in, even when they’re off.”  

Like Johnny, many Americans have heard from one source or another that appliances that they constantly keep plugged in waste electricity when they are off. This is especially worrisome for college students living in rented apartments where any increase in the electric bill could mean a lack of funds for other necessities, such as groceries or Beyoncé tickets.

This concern is apparent in students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, like Jonathan Kim, a first-year global studies major who remarked, “I’m living in I.V. next year and I’ll be cooking my own food and paying for my apartment, so the last thing I need to worry about is whether I should keep stuff like my microwave plugged in or not.”

So, is there any truth to this belief? According to the United States Department of Energy, there is. On its website,, the U.S. Department of Energy states that appliances that are always plugged, even when not in use, can add over 10% to the cost of your monthly energy bill, as they do utilize electricity when powered off, albeit in a fraction of the amount that would be used if the device was powered on. Some examples of appliances or devices that are responsible for “wasting energy” include cable boxes, cell phone chargers and even Johnny’s beloved toaster.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The Department of Energy has a handy list of suggestions that can help remedy this wasteful problem with household appliances. Some tips are obvious and require a hassle, such as unplugging devices when not in use. Some are simple. One such tip is to utilize a power strip and to plug in all devices that don’t need to be on into it. This way, when you’re leaving home and want a select group of appliances off, simply turn the power switch off, turning off all appliances connected to it.

Although these tips are not solutions in reducing the energy wasted by certain appliances completely, they certainly do help lower the extra bucks added onto your electricity bill. So next time you go out to work or are leaving for a trip, make sure to power down that toaster; Johnny certainly will.