Save energy and money by staking out vampires!
Dear Consumer Advisor,
What could be sucking up energy in my house and driving my bills up? I’ve switched to CFLs and always turn off the lights when I leave the room but my bills haven’t gone down as much as I hoped.
Wanna Reduce More
One of the best ways to reduce electricity bills and usage is to find and destroy vampires in the home. These vampires are appliances and equipment that suck up power even when they are turned off, such as lamps, TVs, toasters and stereos. They are any appliance that displays a clock while otherwise idle, such as a microwave oven, coffee maker or DVD player. Many ordinary items are actually energy vampires in disguise.
Vampires can also be things that charge, such as cell phones, PDAs, toothbrushes or portable tools, some of which continue to use electricity even after they are charged to capacity. Your cable box, too, is perpetually drawing current as it talks to the network. Have an Internet phone? That’s always on, ready to take a message.
Other culprits are anything with an external power supply, meaning an AC adapter (also known as a wall transformer, power pack, or “wall wart”).
These wall warts convert AC electricity into DC electricity. The conversion is most efficient with large power draws, such as refrigerators, and least efficient with devices that require little power, such as digital clocks.
Vampire power is also called “phantom load” and standby power. In 2015, the National Resource Defense Council found, on average, 65 devices in every home are constantly consuming electricity even when they are not in use.
According to the study, standby power represents on average nearly 23 % of household electricity consumption in California homes. The U.S. spends about $19 billion on standby power a year. Generating all that electricity puts roughly 1 billion tons of CO2-equivalent emissions into the atmosphere every year. That’s 15% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
While the amount of low-power mode energy required by most new appliances is going down, the number of appliances (from washing machines to internet routers) with continual power needs is increasing—eclipsing those savings.
What Can You Do In Your Home?
This is where vampire slayers come in. Unplugging everything that is not in use is not always inconvenient. A simple and inexpensive way to slay energy vampires is with plug-in adapters with an on/off switch. You can purchase them at your local hardware store. You can even get a socket that automatically switches a device off when it has gone into standby. I use the manual switch adapters for my kitchen appliances, TV, and floor lamps. Although my energy usage is already very low, I was still able to see a significant reduction in my PG&E bill. Try it—you will be pleasantly surprised!
Drop us a line or leave me a voice mail letting me know how much you’ve saved once you have tried it:
Updated July 2016