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High Tech's Hidden Cost

That gadget just might be jacking up your energy bill.

By Sharon Tanenbaum and Ashley Tate
Outlet on a yellow wallJames Baigrie
Your new plasma television was a bargain―or so you thought. But you probably didn’t imagine it would increase your energy bill. Many new-generation household electronics use more power than their less flashy predecessors. And electronic devices account for 10 to 15 percent of all electricity used in American homes, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a nonprofit organization that promotes energy-efficiency. You can lower your energy consumption by plugging most of your electronics into a power strip and turning that off when they’re not in use. (To see how much energy that saves, go to How Green Are You?) The exception? Digital video recorders and other devices with timers, which won’t record unless they are connected to a live power source. Read on to see which electronics zap the most cash.
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