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HaleyHaley Hillesland

Multimedia Intern, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)

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This Halloween, the usual spooky suspects are not witches or zombies or Frankenstein. Instead, the suspects are a little less obvious: it’s your coffee maker, microwave, cell phone charger, printer, electric toothbrush, and television. While plugged in and in use, these devices are perfectly harmless. When the cell phone is charged and the coffee is ready, however, the fangs come out…

Vampire power is the excess electricity consumed by appliances when plugged in but not in use. Also referred to as standby power or phantom load, these appliances are sucking electricity, raising your energy bill and wasting energy.  While these devices will not significantly impact your electricity bill on their own, cumulatively they are frightening. Consumers in the United States waste about $3 billion a year on vampire energy, according to the Energy Information Administration. With the dramatic increase of rechargeable gadgets and devices with standby power functions, vampire power also has a significant effect on the environment. Less vampire power means lower carbon emissions.

To eliminate this year-round villain don’t reach for the wooden stakes or strings of garlic. Reducing vampire power can be as easy as unplugging a few unused appliances or flipping the switch of a power strip. After using the toaster, coffee pot, or microwave, unplug it. When your laptop, iPod, and cell phones are charged, unplug their chargers. To make life a little easier, use a power strip or surge protector and turn off all of these devices with one simple switch before leaving the house. As always, look to replace larger home appliances with energy efficient devices that are designed to cut energy costs, such as Energy-Star® electronics. A few simple tweaks and the vampires will disappear.  

Don’t be afraid of energy vampires this Halloween, or any other time of year. Keep things unplugged and replace others with energy efficient devices. As for the goblins, ghouls, and ghosts, you’re on your own.

Resource for kids on all things energy (history of energy, how to save energy, games, fun facts, etc.)

You Tube video on vampire energy

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