All Hallows’ Eve is drawing nigh and “energy vampires” are once again terrorizing the nation. Well, these plugs actually don’t prefer a time of year and terrorizing may be exaggerating slightly…but that doesn’t make them any less vamp. Or vampirey. Vampiric? I digress…
You probably have appliances in your home and office that are plugged in and not in use. Though they look innocent enough, many of these appliances are energy vampires – slowly sucking electricity from the grid and money from your wallet. Most people aren’t aware that some appliances constantly draw power, even when turned off. Not all electronics are to blame – lamps, fans, and many others use no power when not in use. Luckily, theres a way to identify the vamps from the friendlies. First off, appliances with clocks, like microwaves, coffee makers, use a few watts of energy any time they are plugged in. Also, laptop and cell phone charges have transformers (the small box attached to the cord) which continuously draw energy when plugged in. Similarly, devices with remote controls, like DVD players, televisions, and stereos, stay in standby mode when powered off.
While on standby, the average device uses about 5Wh per hour. Consider this: a dvd player draws 5W on standby every day for a year or 5W*24hr*365d=43.8kWh. If you multiply 43.8kWh by the California average $.16kWh you get $7.00. That one device costs $7 every year just sitting there! Individually the draw of these devices may not be noticeable, but when combined and looked at over time the losses are significant. So, say you have two TV’s with DVD players (one with a surround sound system), three cell phone chargers for you and your family, two chargers for your laptops. Then there’s the microwave and alarm clock. And the coffee maker, the countertop deep fryer, the cordless drill. With all fifteen vampire appliances plugged in, the $7 becomes over $100 a year. In Hawaii, where average electricity prices are $.36kWh, that’s nearly $250!
What can you do to stop these insidious, power-hungry demons? If you’ve tried without luck to drive them out with garlic or holy water (shockingly dangerous, not recommended), here are some easy adjustments for you to try. First, you can simply unplug any devices you’ve identified as a vampire. Easy enough for one device, but maybe impractical for a whole home. You can also try hooking up devices to power strips so you can turn several appliances off at once. Finally, some manufacturers now offer “smart” power strips which utilize timers, motion sensors, or current detectors to automatically turn off devices that aren’t in use. These measures can cut your wasted electricity by a third according to the NBNL. Whatever method you choose, make this the Halloween you stop the energy vampires once and for all.