Which home appliance is the biggest energy hog? The answer may surprise you

Electric bills have skyrocketed recently, thanks to recent rate hikes and new high-tech appliances that eat up watts. But one entertainment appliance might be the biggest power hog of all — the cable DVR.

Many call them "power vampires" — home appliances that suck power 24 hours a day. For instance, many coffee makers use six watts of power — $1.25 a month — even if you never make a cup.

But one of the biggest vampires, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, is the DVR.

DVRs are always on, with a spinning hard drive running all night, using 35 watts of power a month. It can't be turned off or it will fail to record shows.

The Times says DVRs could cost as much as $8 a month, depending on the electric rate.

And those new mini cable boxes that almost all TV's now need? Each uses 6 watts, another dollar a month.

A few other home appliances will draw power overnight, even if not being used:

  • A computer in sleep mode uses seven watts of power.
  • A  porch light using a CFL bulb  uses 13 watts per month on average, while an LED bulb uses just six watts.
  • Cell phone chargers use an average of four watts of power a month.

None of those is outrageous. But with the cable DVR pulling 35 watts of power, it's essentially showing a movie every night when no one is watching: Doesn't that stink?

The good news is that cable companies are switching to newer boxes that use about 20 percent less power, and will eventually reach Energy Star standards.
    
Until then, though, the cable box will continue to be the appliance that never sleeps, and draw more power al night long than any other device — besides an air conditioner or heat pump.
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