When the leaves start to change and the temperatures drop, the creepiest holiday of the year is in a couple of days: Halloween.
Despite the cute kids in costumes and piles of candy, there’s no denying that this day is all about the creepy and the terrifying. But you don’t need to wait for Halloween to get a scare.
Just take a look around your house to find all these energy vampires that are sucking out energy and costing you money each month. It doesn’t get more frightening than that!
Are there energy vampires in your home?
In your home, you probably don’t have literal vampires creeping around every corner. But you might have something even scarier. 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 approximately one-quarter 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.
Though the computer is a common energy sucker, it’s far from the only one. Take a tour of your home, room by room, and figure out what may be left plugged in during the day unnecessarily.
While there may be some items that need to stay plugged in (your little one may not appreciate losing that night light) you’ll probably find a number of energy vampires that you leave in without giving them a second thought.
More ideas for slaying your 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.
A quick solution is to invest in a power strip to house the plugs of appliances that don’t need to stay on 24/7. According to Energy.gov, a power strip can save up to $100 per year in electric costs!
When you leave the house, simply turn off the strip and it will cut off the flow of electricity to any appliances plugged into it, saving you both time and money.
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.
Finally, think about updating your major appliances. Older models tend to be less energy efficient, so investing in new refrigerators, washing machines or other large appliances that you use every day can have a big impact on your utility bill.
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.
Quick tips for identifying energy vampires
Wondering how to start minimizing energy vampires? You can use these tips to figure out which appliances and devices to start unplugging.
- 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.
Your haunted house could cost more than you think
Creaky doors, broken window panes, cold drafty hallways are all hallmarks of a haunted house, a staple in any horror movie worth its popcorn. And they’re certainly a must-have for the Halloween season.
Though your house is likely more well-kept than a haunted dwelling, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its own ghosts that are doing something even scarier increasing your monthly utility bill.
Do you feel a cool draft that raises goosebumps on your arm? Sure, it could be an invisible spectral spirit, but more likely the chill is caused by leaky windows.
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.
If you want a haunted house for next Halloween party, stick with fake cobwebs and pumpkins and skip the cold drafts that inflate your bottom line.
Cut the extra stuff. How much candy do you really need?
Amidst all the creepy elements of Halloween, there’s no denying that little kids in costume add a light note to the day. And there’s no better way to get into the spirit of the holiday than to have plenty of treats on hand when the little ones show up at your door. You certainly don’t want to be known as the house that ran out of candy!
But just how much candy do you need to buy to prepare for these costumed kids? One bag? Two? How about 50? If the latter sounds a bit ridiculous, that’s because it is. There’s no way you could possibly need that many treats to hand out, so why would you pay for it? You want to spend your money on the amount you’ll actually use and no more.
In the same way, why would you pay for dozens of TV channels that you don’t use?
According to a study by global information, data, and measurement company Nielsen, the average American watches only 17 channels consistently and pays for 189. That means that consumers don’t watch more than 90 percent of the channels they pay for each month.
Luckily, there is a solution. Many companies now offer skinny bundles that allow you to pick the channels you want and skip those you don’t watch, lowering your monthly bill.
With skinny bundles, you won’t feel tricked into paying for entertainment that you don’t use. You may not be able to predict the exact amount of trick-or-treaters that you get at your door on a given Halloween, but you can determine how many channels you watch each month.
You can use these tips to save on money-sucking vampires all over your home! Whether it’s switching to an internet-only plan or unplugging your devices when you leave the house, say goodbye to the horrible vampires haunting your home.
Last updated 10/26/18. Originally published 10/16/17.