>> Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Whoever came up with the name energy vampires deserves props for creativity. Also known as phantom loads, vampires are the appliances and electronics that still "suck" electricity, even when they're turned off.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the extra energy use from vampires "represents a relatively small but growing percentage of an individual home’s electricity use (about five percent), but taken across all U.S. households, adds up to an estimated 65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. This extra electricity costs consumers more than $5.8 billion annually and sends more than 87 billion pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
Slay These Vampires
Although the concept of vampires is fairly well-known, I still see some confusion about which appliances and electronics "suck." So here's a short guide to clarify:
- Anything that needs to be charged, such as cordless phones, cell phones, laptops, MP3 players, Roombas, handheld vacuums
- Anything with a digital display, such as microwaves, DVD players, VCRs, DVRs, stereos, printers
- Anything with standby capability, such as computers
- Anything with a remote, such as TVs
- Unplug, unplug, unplug.
- Unplug the adapters when your cell phones, laptops, and iPods are finished charging.
- Unplug your microwaves, coffee makers, and toaster ovens when you're done with them.
- Unplug your TVs, DVD players, and stereos when you're not using them, or at least at the end of the day.
- Use a power strip. Since power strips don't draw energy when they're switched off, you can cluster like-groups of appliances and electronics around power strips so you only have to flip one switch to turn them all off. If that's still too hard, you can get power strips with timers or even special sensors that detect when your electronics are not in use.
- Obtain a Kill-A-Watt to determine which of your appliances and electronics are the worst vampires.
- Keep it simple by avoiding products with bells and whistles. For example, do you really need a toaster or coffee maker with a digital display? Could you get buy with a traditional phone that plugs into the wall rather than a cordless phone?
- Choose Energy Star-certified products. They use less energy in general, even when they are in standby mode.