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Q&A: Unplugging appliances can result in small but worthwhile savings

Unplug for savings

We are often reminded to unplug electrical appliances when not in use to save money as they draw current even when not turned on. My question is: approximately how much could I save by unplugging a toaster, stereo receiver? Would it be pennies a month or dollars?

For help in answering this one, we turned to Cherie Jacobs, spokesperson for TECO Energy. She writes:

"Phantom load, or vampire load, is the energy used by some appliances even when they are not in use. An example is your microwave or range, which may include a digital clock that runs 24 hours a day.

"Unplugging vampire appliances can reduce your energy use — and save you a few dollars on your power bill every year. It could be pennies or dollars, depending on the appliance, but every little bit helps.

"On a monthly basis, you can save by unplugging these appliances when not using them: Cable/DVR box ($4); television ($1.63); computer ($1.50); satellite ($1.11); stereo or other audio equipment ($1.11); DVD (89 cents); microwave (45 cents); cordless phone (22 cents); or cell phone charger (7 cents)."

No harm in adjusting HVAC

I saw your answer to a question about turning down and turning off HVAC systems to save energy and money. An HVAC tech once told me that adjusting the system often when leaving the house can be harmful to the system. I don't recall that he gave me a reason. Could this be true?

We also put this question to TECO spokesperson Cherie Jacobs, who writes:

"Tampa Electric recommends setting your thermostat at 78 degrees; each degree below that can add 6 percent to 8 percent to your cooling costs.

"If you will be gone for four hours or more, we recommend you turn the system off, or raise the temperature by four or five degrees. Adjusting the temperature setting at that frequency should not damage your HVAC system."

No sale on out-of-date currency

From vacations in the past years we have several pre-Euro coins. Where can these be exchanged for U.S. or Euro coins?

This is not a definitive answer, but Ask the Times called a couple of currency exchange stores and banks in the Tampa Bay area and was told that they do not exchange pre-Euro coins. They are no longer considered legal tender.

We have seen indications that central banks in the countries where the coins were produced will exchange them. But then you'd have to travel overseas, and lug the coins with you.

Your best bet could be selling those older coins to a coin shop or a coin collector.

Q&A: Unplugging appliances can result in small but worthwhile savings 10/16/11 [Last modified: Sunday, October 16, 2011 4:30am]
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