If you’re interested in reducing your consumption of electricity, a great place to start is by identifying the amount of energy consumed by “energy vampires.” That’s a term that refers to always-on devices that are contributing to your idle load, usually without your even realizing it.
According to Lester Shen, director of Innovative Technologies at the Center for Energy and Environment, “These are devices that run 24/7 and are constantly on standby, creating a power load being drawn from the utility. That means they’re incurring costs on your electric bill that you often weren’t aware of, and they don’t provide productive value.”
- Here are some of the most likely energy vampires in your home:
- Audio: amplifier, stereo, boom box, Internet radio
- Video: TVs, cable and satellite set-top boxes, computers, game consoles
- Power adapters, if plugged in all the time and warm to the touch
- Old appliances, especially refrigerators and freezers
Here’s what to do:
First, unplug where you can, especially devices that aren’t being used or are only used now and then. Look in guest bedrooms to unplug television sets or basements where unused devices like baseboard heaters or dehumidifiers may be operating and forgotten.
Second, be “plug wise.” Plug devices you use often into an advanced power strips (APS), which is a power strip with one master socket, one or more "always-on" sockets, and one or more controlled sockets. Or consider installing a whole-house switch that remotely turns off controlled outlets with the single flip of a switch.
Third, adjust the power. Change the settings on your television and game consoles to disable the “quick start” setting, which can use as much as 37 watts a day in some models. Set computers to go to sleep after 30 minutes or less of inactivity, and power them down at the end of the day.
Fourth, buy smarter. The next time you’re in the market for an appliance or electronic device, purchase Energy Star-labeled items wherever you can, because these products are designed to minimize idle load and use less power in active mode.
Consider solar power
If you’re considering adding solar power to your home, banishing energy vampires in advance can help you “right size” the system you install. If you’d like to know more, contact your local solar installer for a free quote and to learn more about which type of solar installation is right for you.