Vampire Power Sucks Your Energy and Money

Vampire power

Vampire power sucks energy and money out of you

Whether you know it or not, there is a vampire loose in your house. However, it is not a traditional vampire that sucks the blood of living creatures. No, this vampire sucks energy out of your electronics and other appliances. He is a tireless worker that sucks energy all day and all night and does not take breaks. All of his energy sucking not only costs you extra money every single day, but also adds more carbon dioxide to the environment and contributes to global warming.

The vampire in your home is called Vampire power. Vampire power, also known as standby power, phantom load or leaking electricity, is power used by electronics and other appliances while they are turned off or put into standby mode.

Electronics and Appliances that Use Vampire Power

Most electronics and major appliances use vampire power. Typically, the power is used to light a digital display, like a clock, or is used to convert from one power level to another (think of your cell phone charger here), or is used to keep a device in standby mode so that it is quicker to respond to you when you ask it to do something. However, some are worse offenders than others. Anything manufactured after 2007 is probably better, as legislation was passed that specified that appliances must use less than 0.5 watts on when on standby. That means that your old 1980′s VCR and dryer are probably sucking energy like mad.

Here are some good examples of electronics and appliances that use vampire power.

  • Laptop computers
  • Cell phone chargers
  • Televisions
  • VCR’s and DVD/BluRay players
  • Video game consoles
  • Microwave ovens
  • Printers, scanners and fax machines
  • Washing machines and dryers

If you want to see how much vampire power the electronics and appliances in your home are using, check out the list of hundreds of different appliances and how much standby power they use created by The Laurence Berkley laboratory.

Why You Should Care

“So what?” you may ask. “Does it really cost me that much or contribute that much to global warming if I leave my laptop charger plugged in all day?” The answer to that question is “no.” No one electronic or appliance uses a lot of vampire power by itself. However, if you stop to consider that you probably have 30 or 40 devices in your home that are using standby power, the power use, and therefore the cost to you and carbon emissions generated, can start to become worth paying attention to.

The Costs

There are many studies that show that the average American home contains at least 30 appliances that constantly consume between 20 and 60 Watts of power. That can be up to 10% of your monthly electric bill. So, if your electric bill is $100 each month, that means that you are paying $10 each month for pretty much nothing. If you multiply that by all of the housing, office and retail space in the United States, you can see how it can have a very large impact. In fact, according to, over $10 BILLION is wasted on vampire power each year in the United States alone. Just imagine what the costs are, both financially and to the environment, worldwide.

How to Reduce Vampire Power Usage

Luckily, chasing down and killing the energy vampire in your home is not as difficult as a real vampire. Here are a few cheap and easy ways to reduce vampire power usage in your home.

  1. Unplug it. This is the cheapest method available, but the most time-intensive. You can simply unplug electronics and appliances to prevent them from using standby power. However, you have to remember and take the time to do it.
  2. Surge strips. This is the next easiest method and it is still cheap. Go out and buy yourself a few surge strips and then plug in all related electronics and appliances into them. Then, at night or before you head out of the door in the morning, just turn off the surge strips. I do this with my laptop, phone, computer speakers, cell phone charger and multi-function printer in our office. Everyday, when I am done working, I simply turn off the entire strip, which prevents all of those devices from using vampire power overnight while they are not being used.
  3. Energy-saving surge strips. Newer surge strips are becoming smarter and can monitor and regulate the energy use of devices plugged into it for you. For example, the Belkin Conserve Smart Energy-Saving Power Strip monitors whether your TV is turned on or not. When it is turned off, the strip cuts power to all of the other devices plugged into it (like your DVD player, video game console, VCR, etc…).
  4. Timers. Much like an energy-saving surge strip, a timer can be set up to automatically cut power to devices at a certain time.  The Belkin Conserve Socket Energy-Saving Outlet provides surge protection and allows you to specify to turn off power to devices in 30 minutes, 3 hours or 6 hours. The Intermatic Lamp and Appliance Timer allows you to set two on/off settings each day.
  5. Buy more efficient items. This is the last option as it is the most expensive. However, if you have really old electronics, like a TV, VCR or DVD player, or old appliances, like a toaster, washer or dryer, then it may make sense to replace them with Energy Star qualified products.

Now that you know about the vampire loose in your home, go hunt him down and start saving yourself some money and reducing the carbon emissions generated by your home.

Photo credit: www.ficg via Flickr.

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