It has two, sometimes three, protruding teeth that suck energy right out of its host. It’s probably around your house, slowly leeching away as you read this. It sounds like something straight out of Twilight. But it’s an environmental issue that needs addressing.
The vampire effect or phantom load is electricity consumed by an electronic device while it is turned off or in standby mode. It is the power that maintains your TV settings, keeps the clock going on your VCR and microwave, and it’s the charger plugged into your wall but not your computer. These devices are called “vampire appliances” or “energy vampires.” In simple terms, it’s when electronics that aren’t in use are plugged into outlets, consuming energy that is unnecessary.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the “often-neglected loads” of personal items are space heaters, fans, clock radios, small stereos with remotes and phone chargers.
The average home is infested with 20 vampires, which adds about $200 to your annual energy bill according to Cornell University.
The average American over the age of 2, spends more than 34 hours a week watching television, according to the Nielsen report, a consumer television survey. There are 164 hours in a week, which means the average American’s TV is turned off, but still plugged in for 130 hours. And you’re paying for it. You’re paying for your TV to be off and soaking up all that unused energy.
The energy that these processes produce are used to heat water and generate steam, which turns turbines that generate electricity. The energy is then distributed through a network of electric wires and outlets arriving in outlets for consumer use.
“There are so many environmental impacts to leaving electronics plugged in. We live in a country that takes resources for granted so I understand how it can be easy for people to just leave things plugged in and not think twice about it. People need to keep in mind that not only are you wasting precious energy but you are wasting money,” said environmental studies major Karen Norwood.
Combating vampires is easy and garlic isn’t necessary.
First, use power strips all around your home. Not only will you have more room to plug in all your devices; with one tug of the power strip, all are simultaneously unplugged. The Isolé IDP-3050 is a power strip that can turn on and shut off six of its eight outlets based on motion detectors. This device is perfect for those who want an easier solution to unplugging vampires.
Second, unplug appliances that you aren’t using. For example, that stereo that hasn’t been used since your birthday party in December shouldn’t be sucking energy from your outlet and wallet year-round.
Third, buy energy efficient appliances that have the Energy Star label. If you forget to unplug your products, Energy Star creates more energy efficient appliances that use less energy overall. According to their website, in 2010 Energy Star helped save enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 33 million cars and has saved nearly $18 billion on utility bills.
Although it would be ideal, I’m not suggesting that unplugging every single outlet in your home is the answer. By trying to combat the energy inefficiency in your life, you will notice how full your wallet will be and you’ve successfully slayed vampires in the process. Sounds like an ideal situation.