Are There Vampires in Your Home?
With Halloween right around the corner, horror films seem to be running nonstop. The television is filled with goblins, ghouls, and other monsters, but did you know there could be vampires right inside your very own home?
Lurking in oft-overlooked places, these energy suckers drive up your monthly bill without you even noticing.
What are Energy Vampires?
An energy vampire is any electronic device that continues to use power even when it’s been switched off. While these vampires initially seem harmless and often go unnoticed, they can actually account for as much as 20% of your monthly electricity bill.
Imagine just how much money you’re wasting — now that’s a scary thought!
Common Home Energy Vampires
A good way to identify an energy vampire is by looking for a square or rectangular box located along the power cord. These are called “wall warts” and are used to convert AC to DC power that can be utilized by your device. This seems all well and good, but the process doesn’t stop when your device is turned off. Even when not in use, a wall wart will consume power.
However, devices with wall warts aren’t the only offenders. Let’s travel around the home and identify a few of the most common culprits.
Cable Boxes/DVRs & Game consoles
Cable boxes/DVRs can pull up to 35 watts which equates to about $96 annually. Plus, if you regularly leave an Xbox One or PS4 in standby mode, it could be tacking on an extra $130-$180.
Despite being deemed the most “energy efficient” appliance in your home, the clock on your microwave tends to be a big culprit considering how often it’s left in standby mode. In actuality, your microwave spends more cumulative energy powering its digital display than heating food!
If left on, standby heaters in your coffee machine typically consume up to $8 extra in energy costs per month, which means you’re wasting up to $96 a year! If you have a newer single serve coffee maker, these tend to keep water hot all day long, sucking another $5 of energy per month!
While space heaters can be handy for helping keep smaller areas of your home comfortable during especially cold weather, they also tend to make electric bills skyrocket. Keeping them unplugged during lulls in activity or moderate temperatures will prevent significant energy waste.
Phone Charger/Alarm Clock
While the traditional alarm clock may be somewhat outdated, leaving your phone charger plugged in after it’s achieved full battery isn’t just unhealthy for your device, but it also wastes energy. Be sure to unplug your phone and your charger after use before you go to bed at night to save energy!
Hair straightener, curler, and hair dryer
Leaving these appliances plugged in (even when turned off) allows them to constantly drain energy from the outlet.
If you own a standard toothbrush, congratulations, you have one less energy vampire to worry about in your home! If you do own an electric toothbrush, keeping it unplugged after a full charge will not only prolong its battery life but also save you energy.
If you leave your power tools plugged in even after a full charge, you’ll want to consider unplugging these energy suckers.
How to Stop Energy Vampires at Home
Unlike traditional vampires, a wooden stake won’t do you any good in this situation. But these energy vampires can be easily slain.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when starting your battle against energy vampires:
Since unplugging everything (especially if it’s behind a TV stand or some other hard to reach spot) is unrealistic, use power strips with an on/off switch to easily turn multiple things off at once.
This can be taken a step further by acquiring a “smart” power strip. These will actually monitor how much energy your devices are pulling and when it registers that you are no longer using the device, it will turn off the current. As an added convenience many of these strips come with an app you can sync to your smartphone, so if you leave the house and remember you forgot to turn something off, you can do so remotely.
When your phone, tablet, or laptop is fully charged, unplug the charger.
If you rarely use that toaster oven or only charge your toothbrush once a week, unplug it!
Double Down with Energy Star
Hands down, the most effective way to rid your home of energy vampires is by unplugging devices when they’re not in use (or by hiring Van Helsing). This will help you save on your monthly electricity bills. If you’re looking for even greater savings, consider replacing outdated appliances. Hint: Aim for newer models that are ENERGY STAR certified.