They’re called vampire electronics. They suck energy even when turned off and can drive up the energy bills of unwary consumers. Although this eerie-sounding term can result in chilling home energy bills, the solution is not that scary. To keep energy bills down and consumption in check, the key is to identify the electronic culprits and drive a stake through their power-hungry hearts.
Counted among the legions of vampire electronics in most homes are portable music players, mobile phones and televisions. Even microwaves, stoves and washing machines can take on vampire-like qualities. These small appliances and electronic devices continue zapping energy when not in use to power features such as clock displays, remote controls and battery chargers — and many consumers are not aware of this fact.
Many vampire electronics lurk in the average home, making the potential for energy waste shocking. For instance, a sleek plasma television monitor can suck up to 1,450 kilowatt hours of energy annually, which translates into approximately $320 per year using local electrical rates. A video game console consumes about 230 kWh annually while in active standby mode, ringing up a bill of about $50 a year. Even the average home computer uses a whopping 310 kWh annually when in standby mode, costing about $70 a year.
Halloween is a great time for the KMC to exorcise these electrical demons from their homes. Many people don’t realize that small things, such as leaving a cell phone charger or power tools plugged in, use energy. But over time, a great deal of power is consumed. As people prepare to winterize their homes, they should also devise a strategy to minimize the amount of energy their homes use, even when they’re not around or sleeping. Here are some suggestions:
• When finished charging devices, such as a mobile phone or tablet, disconnect the device and unplug the charger. Even if the device isn’t connected, energy continues to seep out through the charger itself.
• Unplug all major appliances when heading out on vacation. Even when devices, such as the microwave, stove and washing machine aren’t in use, their light-emitting diode panels continue to gobble energy.
• Turn all computer monitors and printers off. Though this equipment may automatically convert to sleep mode, it keeps draining energy.
• Rather than leaving a light on to deter burglars, install a timer. This way, lights are on for only a short period rather than all day.
• Purchase a power strip that can turn several appliances off at the same time, so plugging in and unplugging is easier and more convenient.
Taking simple steps like these can make a big difference when it comes to monthly energy bills. Armed with the knowledge of what vampire electronics are, residents can slay them before their wallet is sucked dry.