With Halloween and the spooky season upon us, let’s talk about something that’s truly scary—Energy Vampires. These real-life succubus’ inhabit our homes, apartments, and workspaces. So how do we scare off Energy Vampires and phantom energy loss? Here are 7 facts that’ll save some kilowatt-hours—and save you money. But first—what is an Energy Vampire?
What Is An Energy Vampire?
An “Energy Vampire” is an electronic device or appliance that consumes small amounts of electrical energy, even when turned off or in standby mode. They drain power, even when they’re not doing anything useful. This energy consumption is also called “vampire power”, “standby power,” or “phantom power.” Energy Vampires contribute to energy waste and higher utility bills over time because they are always pulling a trickle of electricity.
Energy vampires typically use about 5% of your home’s energy use—but that adds up on your bill and nationwide. The Union of Concerned Scientists says, “This extra electricity costs consumers more than $5.8 billion annually and sends more than 87 billion pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.”
What Are Some Common Energy Vampires?
Energy Vampires are likely living all over your house, apartment, or workspace. These devices are part of our daily lives and usually we don’t even think about them. Some common Energy Vampires are:
- Chargers: Devices like phone chargers, laptop chargers, and power adapters often draw a small amount of power even when the device they are charging is not connected or fully charged.
- Televisions: Many modern TVs have features like instant-on or standby modes, which keep them in a low-power state but still consume electricity.
- Audio/Video Equipment: Amplifiers, DVD players, and gaming consoles may continue to use power even when turned off, especially if they have remote control sensors or displays.
- Appliances: Certain appliances like microwaves, coffee makers, and ovens may have clocks, timers, or digital displays that consume energy when not in use.
- Computers: Desktop computers, monitors, and printers can draw power when plugged in but not actively in use.
Ways To Stop An Energy Vampire
Now that we’ve identified these electricity-sucking devices, the question is: how do we stop Energy Vampires in their tracks? There are a bunch of easy ways to do this (and none of them involve garlic or a wooden stake).
Be afraid of the lights.
Ever notice that even with all the lights turned off, your room still isn’t dark? You can blame glowing clocks and device lights for that. While some use super-efficient LEDs and some power suckers don’t have a clock or lights, taking a look at everything that glows is a good start.
Their weakness is unplugging.
Whether it’s a big appliance or a small charger, if it’s unplugged, there’s no way for it to drain power. While it’s next to impossible to unplug refrigerators, stoves, and other kitchen appliances, think about other small appliances that can be unplugged when you’re not using them (I’m looking at you, toaster).
Sleep may be better than death.
Every computer is different, but if you’re walking away from your computer multiple times a day, it makes sense to your computer in “sleep” mode may use less power than shutting it completely off, thanks to the power it takes to wake it back up every time.
Defeat a hive all at once.
If you have lots of devices you need to unplug in one spot, plug them into a power strip and get in the habit of switching it off when you’re not using them or when you go away on vacation.
Don’t attract them with pretty pictures.
Unless you have a desktop with an old tube monitor (what year are you living in?), skip the screensaver. Those were invented to keep those huge old monitors for getting a screen tattoo, but your laptop or flat (LCD) monitor doesn’t need them at all, and they keep your computer sucking serious power every time you step away.
They’re not immortal.
Powering down completely keeps electronics cool and keeps components from running when they’re not needed. So unless a device is specifically designed to stay on all the time (which still sucks), it’s likely to last longer when you shut it down.
Are you in love with a vampire? Make it less scary.
There are some things that suck a lot of power that need to stay in standby mode to give you all the benefits so look (and ask for) ones that meet Energy Star standards.
In a world where Energy Vampires lurk behind every charger and TV remote, we’ve learned to take on these creatures of the night, just like Buffy staking vampires in the ’90s. Whether it’s using smart plugs as our garlic cloves or turning off power strips, we’ve now have the tools to combat the most modern of energy foes and put our energy-sucking adversaries back in the coffin, where they belong.
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