You’ve heard of vampire power, right? The term is not as scary as it sounds, but it will make your energy bill creep up on you. You won’t need a cross or garlic to avoid being a victim, and you can take simple steps to rid the “phantom load” of its power.
Vampire power is termed when plugged-in electronics and appliances continue to draw energy even when they are turned off or in standby mode. According to the Department of Energy, these silent energy loads can cost U.S. households an average of $100-200 per year.
Hunt the Vampires in Your Home
Track down these power sucks by looking around your home for devices that have power adaptors or black power-supply cubes. Look around for electronics that use a remote control or have a built-in chargeable battery. Do a survey of equipment with a digital display such as a clock or LED status light. You may spot obvious vampires such as your coffee maker, DVR or computer speakers, but beware that others are lurking about.
Electric shavers and toothbrushes, digital picture frames, and cordless vacuums pull energy when not in use. Another sneaky vampire is your cell phone charger, which continues to draw energy after the phone is charged and even after you take your phone with you. The biggest phantoms are game consoles and plasma televisions. The Department of Energy notes that a plasma television’s standby power can cost up to $165 a year alone!
Remove the Energy Drain
The simplest method to kill vampire energy is to unplug electronics when they’re not in use, but that can be a time-consuming daily task. Cluster electronics into a power strip, especially ENERGY STAR qualified strips that are registered to have lower standby, and flip one switch to turn off all plugs. Or, take it up a notch and invest in smart power strips, which can be set to turn off idle devices for you. You can find them online and at electronics retailers.
A basic smart power strip is controlled by programmable timers, which allow you to schedule turning on and off plugged-in devices automatically. Some strips allow you to control an entire room from your smart device. Advanced strips include outlets controlled by a motion detector to turn on when you come into the room and powers off when you leave or after a set time of vacancy. The smartest vampire killers are able to detect when a primary device such as a TV or computer enters sleep-mode or is turned off, then shuts down any connected outlets like printers or external hard drives. Turn the main device back on, and the accessory outlets come to life.
The vampire load of one device may not attack your utility budget, but a household of phantoms will frighten you! Battle them all with smart power strips, and watch this unnecessary energy drain disappear.