On again, off again: Do you know when to turn off, when to unplug and what buttons to push?

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Your smartphone, TVs, tablets, desktop PC, laptop, washer, dryer and even some cars – on/off buttons are everywhere, and it can feel like no two look exactly alike. Confusion over which button to push may even make you less inclined to turn off unused items, but the costs of standby power can add up.

Apartment Therapy has a great blog that explains the difference between on and off switches, complete with visuals to help you know which button to push for whichever action you desire. After reading the blog, you should be better equipped to quickly turn off every device in your home when needed. Turning off unused electronics and appliances is an obvious way to reduce your electricity consumption, but it shouldn’t be your last step. Sometimes, you need to unplug, too.

Many electronic devices consume power as long as they’re plugged into an electrical outlet, even if you’ve switched them off – this effect is known as “standby power,” “vampire power” or “vampire electricity.” The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says virtually any device that plugs into an electrical outlet, and has a remote control, continuous display or charges batteries is a power vampire and will draw electricity continuously. According to Berkeley Lab, vampire power accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential electricity use, and is responsible for about 1 percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions.

While it’s easy enough to unplug your smartphone charger or the TV in the guest room while you’re not using them, it’s not always convenient to unplug items that you use frequently (like the television in the family room), items that must run round-the-clock (such as the refrigerator) or those that are hard-wired into your home’s electrical system (like the air-conditioner and smoke alarms). Hopefully, you’ve taken steps to ensure you use necessary items in the most energy-efficient way possible. Still, there’s one more consideration to keep in mind.

Power surges can damage electronics and appliances that must be left connected to a power source, and the damage can occur even if those items are switched off. Consider protecting those important devices by using surge protectors and enrolling in TXU Surge Protect PLUSSM. For just $5.95 per month, the program will pay – up to $1,000 per contract year – to repair or replace warrantied electronics and appliances damaged by a lightning strike or power surge. Claims specialists are available 24/7, so you never have to wait to get the repair/replacement process started, and you can select the service provider of your choice from our network of pre-qualified professionals.

Turning off and unplugging are important and easy ways to reduce your household electricity consumption and save some money. So push those buttons with confidence!