Electricity courses through wires in homes, schools, and businesses just as blood courses through living creatures’ veins. While fictitious vampires materialize on Halloween and in “Twilight” movies, energy vampires are real. They can suck enough electricity to account for about 10 percent of a consumer’s electric bill. The Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative says consumers don’t need garlic or wooden stakes to stop energy vampires — they need power strips.
According to EnergizeEfficiently, the average American household has 40 devices and appliances that constantly draw power while in “standby mode.” These energy vampires include televisions, DVD and DVR players, video game boxes, computers, tablets, monitors, printers, “wall wart” chargers, AC adaptors, microwave ovens, and digital picture frames.
How much phantom power electronics sneak depends on what the gadgets and appliances do. EnergizeEfficiently reports that a coffee maker uses only about one watt while a digital cable television box with DVR consumes 44.6 watts when the DVR is not recording and the TV is off. Consumers can see power consumption for different electrical devices on the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Standby Power Summary Table.
Energy vampires first appeared in the 1960s when TV manufacturers included new “instant-on” technology. Before then, a TV watcher had to wait a minute or two for a TV tube to warm-up enough to display a picture. With the new technology, manufacturers included instant-on capabilities in other electronics.
To save electricity and money, NOVEC says consumers should plug devices into a power strip, turn the devices off properly, and then turn off the strip.
When not using a power strip, unplug cellphone and tablet AC adaptors after they have charged batteries. Adaptors typically connect to a device at one end and a wall socket on the other. They change electrical current and voltage sufficiently to charge batteries.
Consumers can learn more about wise energy use at www.novec.com/useitwisely12 and www.energizeefficiently.coop.