Frugal Friday – watch out for the vampire


“Vampire power,” also known as standby power, is running up your electricity bill. Many items you leave plugged into electrical outlets are drawing power even when those items are not in use.

vampire_power Vampire power, as the name illustrates, is the juice used by all those DVD players, clocks, coffeepot LEDs and cellphone chargers—they account for more than 5 percent of all residential electricity use in the U.S., a tab that costs us an estimated $4 billion per year and pumps millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Solution? Turn off your computer at night, unplug your iPod when it’s done charging, or put those gadgets on a power strip for one-touch turn-off.

Anything with a green or red light like a phone charger, electronic device, or your computers with all of their peripherals are running up your bill.

Tonight after dark, walk through your home to see all those green and red eyes staring back at you. (I did this, and kinda got into the Christmas spirit.) Everyone of my appliances include a digital clock – not a one of which was set on the correct time.

Your challenge is to unplug as many appliances and items as possible. Plug them in only when you need the power. When you’re done charging your toothbrush for example, unplug it! Expect to see a drop in your next power bill depending on how much of your phantom load you can unload.

I’m thinking of putting the worst offenders on a power strip and just unplugging it at night or when I leave for an extended period of time.  The problem is, I’m in and out of the house about 30 times a day.  To plug and unplug would take up most of my life.

One of the biggest energy gobblers are the transformers that continuously recharge your cell phone, power your computer peripherals and keep your Game Boy ready for use.

A recent study by students and scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) shows that the average California home pays between $50 and $70 every year to keep those little red lights burning, the clocks ticking and the electronics humming while the appliances go unused. Eliminating this standby or “leaking” electricity could save households between seven and 25 percent on their average monthly electricity bill, the study found.

Instant-on features for TVs are constantly using electricity. Unplug any TVs that aren’t in use right this minute!

Computer printers are one of the big energy wasters, some of them drawing 11.5 watts when idling. Some TVs and video cassette recorders draw almost as much, while set-top cable boxes can draw twice that: the most wasteful found drew 23 watts when the box was off.

There are colleges/universities that encourage students to “unplug” when they are gone on breaks. It saves a tremendous amount of money in dorms when students unplug all those TVs, computers, and other electronic gadgets while they are absent during breaks.

You can check with your local electric company for more information.

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