Vampires in your home? It’s more likely than you think.
To conclude our celebration of Energy Awareness Month, here’s a spooky tale of energy-sucking monsters that live inside your home — and how to defeat them!
You may have heard the legends of Nosferatu, Dracula, and other vampires sleeping during the day inside their coffins. But we’re here to tell you that some vampires never sleep! And they may be lurking inside your home.
The term “vampire power” refers to devices that continue to use energy when they are turned off. Some common household vampires include phone chargers, coffee makers, and video game consoles. Typically, they are devices that have power bricks (e.g., computer cords), have a standby light or clock (e.g., cable boxes or DVD players), or turn on instantly via remote (e.g., video game consoles). Spookier still, the energy they consume is referred to as a phantom load.
But really, you may say to yourself, how much energy could those vampires possibly be using? According to a recent estimate from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), vampire power can result in around $200 in additional annual energy costs for the average American household.
The math for such a figure is broken down by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: Each device takes in about 9 kWh of electrical current per year, which adds up to about $9 of annual energy costs. With the average U.S. household owning between 20 and 40 devices and appliances, those costs can easily add up to $100–$200 per year.
So how do you slay electricity vampires? Hint: It doesn’t involve garlic or wooden stakes. The simplest solution is to unplug devices that are not in use. This is easy for devices like phone chargers and hair dryers, but for other appliances it is not always practical. Here are a couple other tricks to stash in your vampire hunting kit:
Use power-saving settings. Many devices like video game consoles or TVs offer power-saving settings that limit activity when in the device is off. This won’t make the device use no power, but it will use less than it otherwise would have.
Use advanced power strips and smart power plugs. These devices will block power from being used by appliances plugged into them. Power strips make it possible for you to flip one switch to limit the power consumption of all of your living room or kitchen devices. For more information on advanced power strips, how they work, and how to choose one, see this NREL infographic.
Consider an energy efficient model. When it comes time to replace a device, look for an ENERGY STAR-certified model if possible, or other modern products that advertise their energy efficiency.
Slaying energy vampires may not be as exciting a career Van Helsing’s, but cutting power use in small ways throughout your home will help you save on energy bills all year.
DOE: 4 Ways to Slay Energy Vampires This Halloween
ENERGY STAR: Standby Power
ACEEE: Global Implications of Standby Power Use