Are vampires lurking in your home? No, not the bloodsucking kind, but the energy-sucking kind. Energy vampires are appliances that are always on or plugged in using electricity even when they’re not operational. Over time, these energy vampires could start to suck your electricity bill dry. Here’s how to spot them and stop the drain!
Are there energy vampires in your home?
Energy vampires slowly drain electricity from every outlet in your home, adding dollar after dollar to your utility bill even as we speak. Many of these energy suckers take a deceptively harmless form: your electronic devices.
According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, devices that are inactive, such as those in standby or sleep mode, account for 23% of residential energy consumption, costing more than $19 billion every year, or about $165 per household in the U.S.
That sounds extreme, but they found that the average American home has 65 devices (electronics, appliances and other equipment) permanently plugged into an electric outlet, whether residents have the device running or not.
Take your computer, for example. What happens when you leave the house? Chances are that your device remains plugged into the wall. And even if the computer is in sleep mode or otherwise inactive, it’s still using electricity as long as it’s plugged into the outlet. What other devices are always plugged in?
Quick tips for identifying energy vampires
Wondering how to start minimizing energy vampires? You can use these tips to figure out which appliances may be electric vampires.
- Does it have a brick? A brick is a large box usually found on laptop cords and TV equipment. It consumes tons of energy when plugged in, even when it’s not being used.
- Is it a wall wart? A wall wart is a device that has a large plug that looks like a block. When you leave a wall wart plugged in, it still uses energy.
- Does it turn on instantly? If you have motion detector devices or devices that turn on via remote control, they’re still plugged in and still using energy when they’re not on.
- Does it rest in standby mode? Standby doesn’t mean unplugged. Coffee makers and standby lights are examples of electricity vampires in your home.
6 tips for saving electricity from energy vampires
Luckily, there are several small changes you can make that can add up to big energy savings and keep your electricity bill from being so high. Consider these tips:
- Recognize inefficiency – Take stock of your plugs and determine which are necessary and which may be inefficient. Things like your refrigerator will always need to be plugged in, but do you need three gaming consoles plugged in at once?
- Track with a power monitor – A power monitor provides real-time data on which appliances waste energy allowing you to make changes, test solutions and monitor savings.
- Utilize power strips – We don’t want you running around the house plugging and unplugging appliances each and every day. Having power strips in strategic places will allow you to “unplug” electronics with the flip of a switch. According to Energy.gov, a power strip can save up to $100 per year in electric costs!
- Unplug devices during trips – If you’re going to leave the house for more than a day, unplugging non-essential devices, such as the toaster and TV, gives your outlets a break and saves your power.
- Invest in green appliances – If it’s time to replace an appliance, make sure to look for energy-saving products, as indicated by an Energy Star certification. Many appliances now come with fact sheets letting you know what the expected costs are to run, too.
- Consolidate technology – As technology becomes more efficient, you may be able to have fewer plugs overall. For instance, your gaming console may also double as your DVD player.
More ideas for slaying your electric vampires
Unplugging unnecessary appliances is a place to start, but you can take more strategic actions for cutting down energy waste and saving on your utilities. Your quest to kill these fanged energy suckers should also affect how you perform chores around the house.
Doing laundry is obviously a good thing since everyone needs clean clothes. But if you’re not taking care of this task strategically, you could be washing away your money. To save more energy, don’t run a load until it’s full. Loads that are mostly empty increase your energy consumption unnecessarily.
Energy vampires abound in the kitchen as well. Start by looking at your cooking methods. Do you heat up the entire oven for a single baked potato? Consider opting for a toaster oven to save energy at home.
In the same way, don’t turn on the largest burner on the stovetop for a small pot. Make sure that the burner size and pot or pan size match as closely as possible to ensure efficient energy use.
By managing your energy use strategically, you can slay the energy vampires in your home and cut down on your utility bill, one efficient practice at a time.
Your house could cost more than you think
Energy vampires aren’t the only thing you need to worry about when looking at reducing your electricity bill. In addition to your plugged-in appliances, there are other ways to make your home more energy-efficient.
Do you often feel a cool draft? That chill may be caused by leaky windows or doors and may contribute to an increasing electric bill. Your home heating system doesn’t do you much good if warm air is continually being sucked outside. And when you’re paying each month to regulate the temperature in your home, that means that your money is going out the window with it.
If you don’t feel any leaks, you should still check the seals on your doors and windows. Small cracks may be hardly noticeable, but they can impact your utility bill.
Keep in mind that windows and doors aren’t the only things that affect the temperature of your home. The insulation in your walls plays an important role in regulating your house’s environment. Ideally, your insulation should last a lifetime, but that’s not always the case. The material can settle or decay over time, which could especially be a problem if you live in an older building.
According to EPA estimates, the average homeowner could save 11% on total energy costs simply by air sealing the house and adding insulation floors over crawl spaces and attics, as well as accessible basement rim joists. Consider hiring an HVAC professional to perform an energy audit to determine the problem areas that are contributing to your energy bill.
You can use these tips to save on money-sucking energy vampires all over your home! Whether it’s investing in energy-efficient appliances or unplugging your devices when you leave the house, say goodbye to the horrible vampires haunting your home.
Originally published 10/16/17. Last updated 12/17/18.