Even when sitting idle, almost all TVs, computers and stereos etc., will still be using power. So any added cost for high efficiency appliances and electronics gets recouped however frequently or infrequently that they are used.
Whatever small appliance and electronic item you are looking at, there is likely at least one brand that is ENERGY STAR certified. Products that are ENERGY STAR certified are known to use significantly less energy than their counterparts, often as much as 50%. This is even more important when considering which major electrical appliances to choose - such as Stoves or Fridges - as these are used every day. With fridges though, it's not just about what type of fridge you choose, fridge optimization is also very important so the smallest fridge possible is used for the least food wastage. For the ultimate guide on fridge organization top tips, see here.
You may also see a black and white EnerGuide label that will list the estimated consumption in Kilowatt hours and dollars. Take a moment and do the math between models, considering the expected lifespan of the item and its estimated annual consumption. You will probably find that any added cost for more efficient ones will be easily regained through energy savings.
Just think how we are surrounded by electrical devices like TV's, computers, stereos, charging cell phones, clocks, microwaves etc., drawing power 24 hours a day. A charging adaptor or power cord may sit there with nothing attached, but it can still draw energy and generate heat. You end up paying for that power use, and a lot of times you will pay again to remove that heat with your air conditioner.
Short of running out and replacing all the electronics in your home, keeping them on power bars can make for an easy shut down when not in use. For new house starts, you can even incorporate 'kill switches' into your plans, so all power to selected rooms can be easily shut off if desired.
If you have an Energy Star washing machine or not, by choosing low temperature laundry detergent you can even use cold water for washing laundry - learn how to save money and get clothes clean in our guide.