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Energy vampires: The hidden cost of your power-sucking DVR

Up to 20 percent of your electric bill is going to power things like cable boxes, TVs, computers and gaming consoles
Are vampire electronics sucking you dry? 01:31

Your television -- and all the peripheral tech attached to it -- is using a lot more energy than you probably realize. And the power sucking doesn't stop when you turn your gadgets off.

"The consumer electronics in your home might be using two refrigerators' worth of electricity each year," Noah Horowitz from the Natural Resource Defense Council told CBS News San Francisco's Julie Watts.

In fact, he said 10 to 20 percent of your total electric bill is going to power things like your TV, game console and computer. And when it comes to cable boxes, many times it doesn't matter if they're on or off.

"About six power plants are needed to keep these set top boxes running even though you're not watching them," he said.

While a cable box is on it uses about 25 watts of electricity. Turn the box off and power consumption only goes down to 24.

Horowitz said the industry is working to make these devices more efficient. But in the meantime, there are things you can do to save money and cut your electric bill in the process.

He suggests requesting an Energy Star 4.0 set top box from your provider.

And when you make your next TV purchase, opt for one that is also Energy Star efficient. Until then, tweaking your current TV's picture, color and brightness settings can help you save a lot right now.

For example, said Horowitz, "if you pick something like 'vivid' (color) it will be overly bright and use 30 percent more power than necessary."

For computers, Horowitz says whenever possible, think portable. Desktops use four times more power than laptops. And when you're finished using it, shut it down.

"We recommend people have a power strip and just hit that power strip when they're done for the day," he advised.

So while limiting your family's screen time may continue to be a struggle, at least you can limit how much energy those screens use.

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