Green living: Save Our Earth By Living Green

How to Effectively Slay Home Energy Vampires

How would you feel about a vampire in your home who only operates while you are sleeping? The average home has 40 such vampires, the case in point referring to energy vampires. Energy vampires consist of common household devices that regularly steal stand-by power unnecessarily. While the individual home stands to lose about $100 to $130 a year in extra utility bills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the combined total cost is literally in the billions of dollars annually. We’re talking about 100 billion kilowatt hours amounting to $10 billion every year. That is a lot of fossil fuel being burned in the United States for electricity to service unneeded standby power.

What Devices Are Sucking Up Extra Energy?

While some electric devices and appliances, such as alarm clocks or refrigerators, need to be kept running during the night, the majority of appliances in the home do not. Televisions and peripheral devices, computers including fully charged laptops, routers, cell phone chargers, microwaves, battery chargers, power adapters, and power tools provide little or no functional benefit from a continuous, slow but steady stream of electricity.

Research out of Stanford University found a plugged-in, fully charged cell phone consumes 2.24 watts, or 60 percent of the energy used by the device. An already-charged laptop consumes close to 30 watts, or 66 percent of the approximately 44 watts used for charging.

Ways to Curb Energy Loss

A simple but effective way to curb vampire energy loss is to keep appliances and devices unplugged, or turn off the switch when they are not in use. Another simple idea is to use household clocks powered only by rechargeable batteries, rather than plug-in units.

To find out what appliances are sucking up the most energy in your home, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory advises homeowners to buy a low-cost watt-meter. Plug specific appliances into this instrument to determine how many watts are being used per appliance and where to take targeted action for the greatest energy savings.

When buying new appliances, purchase units with “the lowest standby power consumption.” The federal government EPA Energy Star symbol clues shoppers into appliances that consume less energy than average appliances. The EPA encourages homeowners to look for the Energy Star label when shopping, to set the home desktop computer and monitor to power save mode when not in use, and to use power strips for turning off computers and related devices. This applies to other sets of home appliances as well, such as TVs, VCRs, stereos, and related home entertainment items.

Another idea is to utilize cost- and energy-saving Internet options, such as combining telephone and Internet service into one bundle rather than using two or three different providers for operational and energy savings. Additionally, consider eliminating unnecessary appliances and using “smart” surge protectors or power strips designed for home entertainment systems that automatically shut down all entertainment devices (with the exception of any selected or necessary continuous functioning devices), whenever the television is turned off.

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