There are vampires lurking in your home

Phantom Electronics Cost Consumers $10 Billion

by Gene Wang

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You don't need to go to a costume party to find vampires and ghouls. They are lurking in your home, and these vampires aren't interested in blood. They are sucking money right out of your pocket.

Vampire energy (the electric power consumed by many consumer electronic devices when they are switched off but still plugged in) can cost your home hundreds of dollars each year. According to the EPA, idle gadgets suck up $10 billion in energy annually, but there are ways to kill the vampires.

Some standby power consumption is inevitable, like the power used to keep your computer running while you take a short break. It is not practical to turn off your computer every time you pause, since it takes a while to power back on, although you should turn it off every night. But other appliances are quite literally stealing your money and wasting energy without your permission. The culprits are referred to as energy vampires because the products are slowly sucking energy from your home without serving a purpose.

The typical American home has about 40 products that are continuously drawing power, meaning your home is haunted with vampires. The top five energy wasting products are:

  1. T.V.s
  2. Game consoles and DVD players
  3. Desktop and laptop computers
  4. Cable boxes and DVRs
  5. Printers and monitors

Your beloved plasma TV can suck up over 1,400 kilowatt hours annually, adding up to as much as $150 every year, and cable boxes use about 500 kilowatt hours per year because they're already plugged in sucking power, even when you're not watching TV. Combined, cable boxes alone cost Americans $2 billion in wasted electricity each year.

You might be surprised to learn lamps and toasters are not major culprits of vampire power consumption. You can leave those plugged in without having to worry about their effect on your pocket.

So, are you ready to go vampire hunting? The best way to identify energy vampires in your home is to take a look at their power supply. Appliances that use a remote control, have a continuous display (clocks, screen savers), or have an external power supply are almost always energy vampires.

But how do you expel these vampires from your home without unplugging them every time you're done using it? You can try hanging garlic in your doorways, but if that doesn't work, there are a few other options. Try to group energy vampires, like your T.V., game console, and cable box, together on one power strip. That way you can easily turn all the devices on and off with one switch. Smart power plugs can detect how much electricity your vampires are consuming and can be set to automatically turn off every night and then turn back on every morning. These are a good investment for someone trying to save money without any hassle.

When your phone or laptop is fully charged, unplug the charger from the wall so they aren't continually draining power. You can change the settings on a computer so that the system and hibernate features are enabled in both battery and power adapter settings, and turning your computer off at night will save you money too. If there are digital clocks in your home that you don't rely on, like your coffee maker or microwave, check to see if you can turn the clock display off. And when it's time to upgrade your major appliances (think fridge or dryer), look for low standby products that are Energy-Star certified.

Now that you know how to oust all those vampires that have been hiding around your home and are informed of the steps necessary to hinder their energy sucking abilities, take a look at your energy bill and use some of that extra cash to buy something nice (like a bag of candy for those cute creatures who ring the doorbell on Halloween).

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