Hidden Energy Costs Can Inflate Your Electricity Bill

(NBC News) As taxed as air conditioners were this summer, running up electric bills across the country, there's something else Americans now need to pay attention to year-round if they're interested in cutting energy costs.

Consumer experts say there's still more to do to reduce what's called "vampire energy", wasted energy when something's left on even when not in use.

"From your smartphones to your DVD players, to your X-Box and television sets, there are so many gadgets consuming electricity," explains consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.

A phone charger, plugged in but not charging, is just one example of vampire energy.

An even bigger waste of energy is found near your television set.

"Cable boxes use so much energy, they're growing to become one of the biggest energy consuming gadgets in your home," Woroch warns.

She advises shutting them off when not in use.

"A cable box uses the same amount of energy in the off-mode that it does it's on," she explains.

Resetting your thermostat and the temperature on the hot water heater is also a good idea if you're going to be away for a while.

"Definitely turn it to its lowest setting or completely off and that will really help you cut costs there as well," Woroch advises.

In fact, she says most American households can live with 120 degree hot water, instead of the 140 degrees set by most manufacturers.