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Should you turn appliances off at the powerpoint?

We drill down on whether flicking switches really saves energy and dollars.

light bulbs
Last updated: 09 December 2019

With the rise of devices like smart TVs and smart speakers, the number of appliances in Australian homes that are 'always on' is increasing by the minute. 

But what impact does all this connectedness really have on your energy bill? 

We take a look at whether it's really worth flicking off all those switches as you dash out the door. 

CHOICE verdict

The short answer: Yes, it's a good idea to turn appliances off at the powerpoint when they're not in use and when you go on holiday. 

It's not going to make you rich, but it's better for the environment and will save you money. 

It's also wise to keep an eye on how many devices you keep plugged in at any one time, so you can be on top of any changes to your energy bills.


Our home products expert Denis Gallagher talks appliance energy use.

It all adds up

Appliances still use power when they're on standby. So keeping your Google Home or Alexa permanently switched on just in case you need to ask: "Hey, what's the weather like today?" could be adding dollars to your bill. 

We're not talking big bucks, but the Department of the Environment and Energy says that appliances that aren't switched off can still account for about 3% of your energy bill. 

And that's still cash that could be in your bank account, rather than lining the pockets of the energy providers. 

There's also a potential bigger cost: the standby energy used across Australia collectively amounts to tonnes of extra greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere.

The good news: appliances are becoming more energy-efficient

We may be using more appliances than ever, but some of them are getting more efficient. 

According to the Department of the Environment and Energy, household appliances in Australia account for about 30% of the energy we use in our home (as a comparison, lighting accounts for about 12%). 

But over the last decade, as retailers have created more energy-efficient products and Australians have become more aware of energy rating labelling, the amount of household electricity we use has dropped.

The smart home

CHOICE TV expert Denis Gallagher says it's good practice to tally up just how many appliances you have running all the time – especially in the age of internet-connected devices. 

"Last year the average Australian home had 15 to 17 internet-connected devices, and this is set to more than double by 2022. There's going to be many more of these devices throughout the home, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on how your energy bill could be impacted."

What about essential appliances?

While you can turn off most internet-connected devices, TVs and lights, what about appliances you can't switch off – like fridges, freezers and alarms? 

We've been testing appliance energy use for decades, and our labs regularly drill down to check important stats like appliance energy use and running costs. We can help you choose the most efficient products in each category – great for both the planet and your bottom line.