JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – From their lights, to their television sets, some people leave everything on, even when they are not using them. But others, like Giovanna Githens, makes sure everything is off and it saves her big bucks.
"The TV when I'm not home, toaster oven, microwave sometimes, coffee pot, those kind of things," said Githens. "Even my chargers for my cellphone."
It might seem excessive but Githens said her electric bill dropped significantly when she started doing it.
"$97 to about $46, $47 a month, so it dropped about $50 a month," said Githens
It's all because of so-called "vampire electronics".
"Things that are off but are still plugged in. Things that, out of convenience, you may leave plugged in around the house," said Tim Trudell, a spokesperson for the Orlando Utilities Commission. "It probably costs you about 5 percent, but percent makes a difference for a lot of people."
Energy Star says for the average person, it's more than $100 dollars a year, or more, wasted.
For example, monthly, your toaster oven could cost you close to $1.50. Your TVs are sucking about $5 of power a month each, and your computers, just under $3 each.
The biggest culprit is your DVR box, which could cost you more than $46 a year! That's like buying a family of four movie theater tickets.
Githens said that's why she has all of her living room electronics plugged into a power strip. She said that way, she can make sure everything is turned off in one place when she leaves. You can even buy version with slots for devices that do need to stay on, like an internet modem.
But the biggest player on your electric bill probably won't come as a surprise here in Florida: your air conditioner.
"A couple degrees here, a couple degrees there, but that's where I noticed the bigger difference," said Githens.
If you don't have an energy-efficient unit, there's still a few things you can do to save a few bucks.
Keep it at 78 degrees when you're home and 85 when you're not. This time of year, we're also talking about heat, experts say it's best not to raise it above 68 degrees.
"You start to see a 6 to 8 percent raise on your utility bill for each degree," said Trudell.
Another way to slash your bill is to double check your hot water heater. A lot of people don't realize it uses a ton of electricity. So you want to make sure it's set correctly. You can get a gauge from your utility company or a home supply store to check and make sure you have it set at 120
degrees. That's optimal, so you're not wasting electricity, or risking burning yourself.
You can even turn your hot water heater off if you're going to be away for a few days or more.
You also want to make sure as many of your appliances are as energy-efficient as possible, which does include your hot water heater and air conditioner.
If you can't shell out for those pricey upgrades right now, anything at all helps, down to a few LED light bulbs. Githens said she is gradually replacing all of her apartment's bulbs with LED versions.
She also said she has replaced her curtains with blackout curtains so that she can keep cool air in during the summertime and the hot air out.
"Not everybody can afford to do them all at once," said Githens. "We couldn't so we would buy one or two at a time."
"Maybe you can't replace anything right now, but you can use them smarter," said Trudell.
For help finding ways you can save energy, contact your utility company. Many will do free in-person energy audits, or some have interactive online energy audits you can look through to see where you can make changes.