Save $100 a year; unplug a mini-fridge

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Anyone who has had a leaky roof knows even little drops will eventually fill a bucket and flood house. When spending money on wasted energy, small improvements can add up to big dollars saved.

One type of energy often wasted is standby power; this is the power an appliance uses when it is turned off. Hitting the power button or flipping a switch to an off position doesn't necessarily mean the appliance stops using electricity. Individually, the electronics waste very little electricity while standing idle, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, a typical home has about 40 products continually drawing electricity.

"Together these amount to almost 10 percent of residential electricity use," the website states.

For instance, leaving a charged laptop plugged in even after it's fully charged can cost a residential user $33.48 or more a year. At work even small changes can save the Air Force a tremendous amount of money. If 100 Airmen unplugged their computer speakers, Buckley could save $252 a year. If half of the workers on Buckley unplugged their speakers, the savings would be more than $10,000.

In addition to unplugging unneeded items, Airmen can use needed items judiciously at home and work to save money. Running a coffee pot four hours a day costs a residential customer $121.68 a year, and it costs the base $65.52 a year. Offices with three or four coffee pots can cost the government several hundred dollars a year. At home or at work, the convenience of a mini-fridge costs $102.21 and $55.04 for residential customers and the base, respectively.

Buckley spends more than $8 million a year on its electricity bill. The average Colorado resident spends a little less than $70 a month on electricity, according to Xcel. With small improvements the Air Force and Airmen can have a little more spending money.