Sunday, November 20, 2011

Vampire Power: Draining the Earth's Resources

Halloween is over and there are still vampires hanging around! (And I'm talking about more than Twilight/Breaking Dawn, here!) These vampries are the kind that suck your electricity, not your blood.

Did you know that when your appliances and electronics are plugged in and not in use, they are still drawing power!? Many of our household items use a little power to stay in a standby mode (computers, for example), to be able to respond to a remote control (TVs, VCRs, DVD players, Blu-ray players, CD players, Radios, etc.), or to be able to respond to a communication instantly (printers, fax machines, phones with a separate base, etc.). But having these electronics plugged in all the time is actually very costly for the consumer and for the earth's resources.
It is estimated that the cost to consumers for all electricity for all vampire power in the USA is about
$4 billion annually. In fact, for each family, vampire power probably constitutes 10%-15% of your monthly energy bill! Many TVs and microwaves will consume more "vampire" electricity over their lifetime than they will consume when they're actually being used. Cell phone, laptop, and other chargers are a big energy drain as well.
So what can we do about it? Well, the good news is that most appliances are being developed to draw less power when plugged in but not in use. New laws are limiting the amount of vampire power that devices can draw. So when you buy new electronics or appliances, check for energy star rated appliances and other indicators that these items get more bang for their electricity-buck.

Other solutions include simply unplugging items when not in use. This may be more practical for some items (like the toaster) than others (like the TV and all the things that go with it). (See my Easy Eco-Challenge this week on unplugging!)

If unplugging isn't practical for a particular item, consider using a power strip with an on-off switch. That way electronics that work together can be turned on and off together with one easy switch. Another great solution is a power strip with a master-slave arrangement, such as with a computer and printer. If the computer (the "master") is off or on standby, other items plugged into the "slave" spots on the power strip will not receive power. Two of these strips are the Smart Strip Power Strip or the Power-Saving Essential SurgeArrest 7.

I know that keeping electronics plugged in is the easiest thing to do, but making a small change and unplugging them can save 10%-15% of our electric bill per year! That is a bundle! Also be sure to factor in the savings to the earth that unplugging will contribute.

I do hope you'll join in my Easy Eco-Challenge this week and unplug!

Happy Vampire Vanquishing!

Sources and Further Reading:
Grinning Planet
How Stuff Works
Energy Information Administration
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