How to Reduce Electricity Costs With Switched Receptacles

Switched receptacles can help you reduce electricity costs by giving you better control over what devices are drawing power at any given time. With a regular receptacle, plugged-in devices will continue to draw power even when turned "off." But a switched receptacle allows you to completely cut power to the outlet, preventing phantom energy drainage from devices that are plugged in but not in use.

What is a Switched Receptacle?

A switched receptacle is a regular 120V outlet that has been wired to a light switch. This allows you to turn power on and off to the outlet using the switch.

Switched receptacles are typically wired in one of two configurations:

Switched outlets are wired to a light switch just like a ceiling light would be. Flipping the switch breaks the hot wire connection, cutting power to the receptacle.

How Switched Outlets Save Electricity

Leaving devices plugged into regular receptacles when not in use contributes to phantom energy loads. This refers to electricity that is being drawn constantly by electronics in idle mode.

Some examples of phantom load devices:

Having these devices continually plugged into live outlets can waste 100-200 kWh annually per home. By installing switched receptacles, you can completely eliminate phantom loads by cutting power to the outlet when it's not needed.

Other ways switched outlets can reduce energy costs:

Choosing Switched Outlet Locations

When selecting where to install switched receptacles, focus on areas where devices are often left plugged in but not in use. Some of the best places for switched outlets include:

Wiring a Switched Outlet

Warning: Working with electrical wiring carries risk of electrocution. Consult a qualified electrician if you do not have experience.

Wiring a switched receptacle is done by connecting it to the hot source leading to the light switch:

Materials Needed


  1. Turn off power to the circuit at main breaker panel. Verify it is off with a voltage tester.

  2. Open the switch box and outlet box you are wiring together.

  3. Run a 3-wire cable from the switch box to the outlet box.

  4. Secure the new outlet and connect the ground wire to grounding screw or terminal.

  5. Connect the neutral (white) wire from outlet to neutral terminal on outlet.

  6. Connect the hot source wire from the switch to the hot terminal on the outlet.

  7. Connect the switched hot wire running to the switch to the other hot terminal.

  8. Secure all wires, outlets and switches. Attach faceplates and covers.

  9. Restore power and test outlet switching on and off.

Follow all local electrical codes. Consider hiring an electrician if you lack experience with household wiring.

Cost of Installing Switched Receptacles

The cost to install a switched receptacle will depend on the number of outlets and complexity of the wiring:

While not free, switched receptacle installation costs can pay for themselves over time through energy savings. The amount saved will depend on the devices powered through the outlet.

Final Tips for Switched Outlet Savings

Installing switched receptacles throughout your home provides simple yet effective control over plugged-in devices. By completely cutting power to outlets when not needed, switched receptacles can provide substantial savings on your electricity costs over time.