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When convenience is costly

April 29, 2015   By Willard Strong in Reduce The Use

Santee Cooper routinely communicates to customers how to use electricity more efficiently.

There are so many ways to conserve energy, from buying energy-efficient appliances to installing CFL or LED light bulbs, or by simply telling your kids to turn off the lights when leaving a room.

Then there are the more subtle ways that may require you to drill down a little deeper to realize savings. For example, unplugging electronic devices when not in regular use is an effective way to attack "phantom power" robbers — things that are in "stand-by" mode but still use electricity. Usage can add up over the year, costing you in the pocketbook.

One example I've run across is the now widespread popularity of single-serve coffee or hot-beverage makers. They're all the rage, but as is the case with many things in modern life, convenience comes with a price that may be a lot more than you think.

The single server is like the proverbial "minute man," ready at a moment's notice to deliver a piping hot cup of Joe or tea. Most of the time it isn't in use, but it still has to be ready to heat the water. At idle, its heating element has to continuously maintain a considerably high temperature in a boiler reservoir.

This makes for a quick brewing time, but it can be wasteful. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical single-serve unit left on all the time uses about 3 kilowatt-hours a day. That works out to about $9 a month or $108 each and every year. In the colder months, this does help keep your kitchen a little warmer. However, during the late spring and summer months, your cooling system has to labor a little more to remove that access heat.

So what to do? You can simply unplug it and plug it back in when you want to use it. It may take a few minutes to get hot, but unless you plan to brew up a lot of single serves over a few hours or so, unplugging will keep much of that $108 in your pocket over the long run.

Many of us, including me, can't imagine life without coffee, tea or other beverages. But is it worth over $100 a year for single-serve convenience?

Learn more ways to save energy at home with our energy saving tips and let us know in the comments the many ways you save energy.