Slaying Energy Vampires in Your Home

Energy Vampire

In the spirit of Halloween, which also happens to be on the last day of Energy Action Month, we’re kicking off October by bringing you a special vampire-slaying spin on the topic of energy efficiency.

What is a vampire?
A mythical undead creature that feeds on the blood of humans.

What are energy vampires?
Home appliances that use standby power, sucking energy from the outlet even when they aren’t being useful.

How can you slay the vampires in your home?
If we’re talking about the Dracula sort, the solution probably lies in cloves of garlic and wooden stakes – or possibly energy-efficient CFL or LED light bulbs that mimic sunlight. To hunt down the energy vampires in your home, here are our top three tips:

  1. Unplug cell phone chargers, laptops, and other devices that have a converter (that bulky box attached to the power cord) when you’re not using them. Power strips are an easy one-stop-shop to power off large devices like computers, TVs, cable boxes, video game consoles and stereos.

    DVR Sidebar
    One note on the compromise between energy efficiency and convenience: It’s all about what you can live with. Cable boxes are famously inefficient and can be one of the largest energy users in your home. However, they can be hard to shut off completely – if you unplug a DVR, for example, nothing records and the machine is useless. The solution in my house? Our “primary” DVR in the living room stays plugged in all the time, the DVR in our bedroom stays on most of the time (we unplug it when we go out of town, but otherwise it stays on to avoid the 10-minute reboot), and the DVR in our guest bedroom is almost always unplugged (except when my in-laws visit).
  2. Shop for ENERGY STAR® products, which use less power in both active and standby modes. The most important categories to pay attention to when it comes to energy vampires are stereo components, rear-projection TVs and computers. These tend to use the most energy while on standby. You can also ask your cable provider if they can provide you with an ENERGY STAR certified set-top box.
  3. Unless you use your smart phone as your alarm clock, power it down at least a few nights a week. Same goes for your laptop or desktop computer. When I recently read Scotty Loveless’s blog about how to extend my iPhone’s battery life, I suddenly recalled the recent news about how detrimental “blue light” can be to our sleep, which apparently no one is getting enough of these days. I have no science to back me up on this, but I intuitively like the idea that my phone needs to rest at night just like I do (which happens to save battery power and require less recharging), AND by turning off the phone I will also be able to sleep better. Win-win!

Now you’re ready to keep vampires of all sorts at bay. Skip the tricks and enjoy the treat of energy savings throughout October and all year long!