Vampire Energy - Take a Bite Out of Your Electric Bill!

Oct 29, 2018

Energy Vampire Suck Energy

As Halloween arrives, watch out for vampires! The average household has around 25 electronic devices plugged in at all times, many of which aren’t used daily. Vampire energy, also known as standby power and phantom load, is the electricity consumed by appliances and electronics when they are switched off but still plugged in. According to the EPA, idle gadgets suck up to $10 billion in energy annually (about $100 per year for the average household).

The top 5 energy vampires in a home include:

  • Computers and computer-related equipment (modems, routers, etc.)

  • Instant-on TVs

  • Surround sound systems

  • Cable or satellite TV boxes

  • Household items with a clock (e.g., microwave, DVD player, etc.)

Vampire Hunt: What steps can you take to rid your home of these vampires?

The best way to avoid wasted energy is to unplug. But, unplugging some small electronics and appliances (like TVs, coffee makers, cell phone chargers, and microwaves) when they’re not being used can be a real hassle. An inexpensive and easy solution is to use power strips. Group energy vampires together and plug them into a power strip. With one flick of a switch, you can turn everything off, or on, at once. Advanced Power Strips (APS) or smart power strips can monitor if a device is being used and prevent them from drawing power. Check out the different kinds of APS in this National Renewable Energy Laboratory infographic.

If you record TV shows with a DVR, then you may need a different solution. Smart power plugs can detect how much electricity electronics are consuming and be set to turn off at night, and back on in the morning. This will help save money and energy and also ensure no one misses out on a favorite show.

Look for power saving settings on game consoles and other entertainment equipment, and for settings that limit automatic updates. By using these settings these devices may use less phantom power, even if they're plugged in. Routers, printers, and other peripheral computer equipment can be easily turned off when not in use.

When it comes time to replace large appliances, like a refrigerator or dryer, make sure you look for products that have earned the ENERGY STAR; these products have low standby power.

Check out these additional resources for more tips and information on how to slay those energy vampires and save money on your electric bills:

Warding Off Energy Vampires and Phantom Loads (US DOE)

3 Easy Tips to Reduce Your Standby Power Loads (EnergySavers)

Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use (EnergySavers)

Saving Energy through Advanced Power Strips, infographic (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)