Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kill the Energy Vampires

Watch out for energy vampires this Halloween!

Energy vampires are devices that suck power even when you are not using them. Phone chargers left plugged into the wall, modems, digital clocks on the coffeemaker or microwave, etc. Do you have any vampires in your house? Your office?

Shocking but True: In America, some appliances use more energy each year when they are turned off or in standby mode, than they do when being used!!

This wasteful situation is often a result of lazy design. Other times, at least according to manufacturers, it is so our devices will turn on quicker, without taking even a few seconds to boot-up.

The true cost of getting energy to your home involves a lot of negatives. These include war and spills (for oil), putting mercury and other hazards into our air and water (for coal), destroying entire watersheds and vibrant fisheries (for hydro).

This leads me to conclude that sucking power for devices that are not even being used is... Well, kind of disgusting. I am all for using energy to keep us warm and comfortable and to power our industrial production. But let's use it mindfully. Let's stop the waste that is designed into our system.

Until energy-efficient design becomes commonplace, there are a few steps you can take to avoid wasting energy because of energy vampires.

First, unplug appliances when not in use. When they aren't plugged in, they can't suck power. Anybody can do this, and it costs nothing.

Second, plug your entertainment system into a power strip that lets you turn off the parts that dont take time to boot-up. In my case, I leave my cable modem and wireless router in "always on" mode even though it kills me. But I plug my TV, PS3, and stereo into a separate power strip that lets me kill the power to them completely when not in use. You can buy a basic power strip for about $12. There are also a number of "smart" power strips available that can handle this task for you.

The funny Halloween video below sheds more light on the vampires in our homes:

Have a great and energy efficient holiday.

Image (CC, BY, 2.0)


  1. Again, great content. And the timing is perfect for Halloween.

  2. Thanks Tamara. Very well timed. Great video. Do you know of any links that help consumers figure out what they are saving per minute or hour per appliance. I think that would help me more.

    This concept isn't new to me, but somehow it just had not clicked to act on it in my every day life. Up at Channel Rock for Orientation at BGI, there were very clear guidelines about unplugging everything when not in use. But because it is not what I see every day, it was easy to forget/discount.

  3. Tamara, I laughed out loud at this video! It's great! Thanks for the post and I learned stuff-- no clue about the microwave thing.