You don't leave the TV blaring while you're away at work, even though your dog does like to watch Animal Planet's "Hillbilly Handfishin'." It may seem like no matter how careful you are about electricity usage, your bill stays the same. The culprit could be the cable box or DVR. This box, which uses electricity even when not in use, consumes more kilowatts than a refrigerator. In fact, the estimated 160 million set-top boxes in the United States consume about $3 billion in electricity each year -- 66 percent of that when you're not even using the box [source: Kaiser].
One simple, money-saving solution is to unplug the cable box or DVR when you're not using it, although this will make it difficult to automatically record programs you'd like to view. You could switch to a streaming-only device like Roku or Apple TV, which requires much less electricity [source: Ogg]. An increasing number of new cable box/DVR models are expected to have an Energy Seal rating, thanks in part to the addition of standby modes that consume less electricity.