Energy Tech Tips Community

Don’t worry, there are no monsters here. That is unless you count your charger and microwave. Vampire power sources, also known as phantom load or standby power, refers to appliances and electronic devices that consume energy even when turned off or not in use. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “my cell phone charger can’t be draining that much electricity, it’s too small.” You’d be shocked at how much energy that little wire sucks up.

To put it into perspective, we’ve pulled a few statistics: The United States currently uses roughly 26% of the world’s electricity. Of that electricity, about 5% is simply wasted vampire power consumed by devices that are not in use. This 5% of electricity wasted roughly equals the same amount of power used by Italy in a year, and is costing U.S. consumers - you and I - about $3 billion a year.

If you’re still a skeptic after hearing those numbers, we’ve broken down what some of these devices are and how damaging they can be, not only to our pockets but to the environment as well. And don’t worry, by the end of this blog post you’ll be armed and equipped to battle these vampires at the source.

What Exactly Are These Wasteful Power Sources?

There are many appliances and devices considered to be phantom loads, some of which are obvious, like televisions and microwaves. In fact, depending on how much television you watch and cooking you do, some brands of these devices potentially use more energy on standby than when actually in use. Here’s a list of some other common phantom loads to look out for:

  • Cell Phone chargers, adapters, or even the hair dryer that you forgot to unplug because you were in a rush are always supplying power, even if the batteries are full or they are not in use. These are also called wall warts.

  • Appliances with display screens or clocks that stay on even though no one’s around and they’re not being used for anything. There are some appliances that make sense to be on at all times, like refrigerators, but there are also devices that you can certainly afford to unplug for the day. Your coffee maker and toaster oven do not necessarily need access to the power grid 24/7.

  • Electronics that are on constant standby mode. These are different from appliances such as refrigerators, which constantly use energy to keep your food at a regulated temperature. Instead, your printer or televisions are always waiting in silence for you to use your computer or remote to call upon them.

Because of the increase in demand for chargeable and standby devices, as well as the advancement of computer systems, we’ve only seen our dependency on vampire power sources continue to grow.

Vampire Loads Drain Both Money and Resources

You know that coal plants produce carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change. Any vampire power sources that utilize energy from these types of plants are directly related to the increase in carbon emissions we see in the environment. Nuclear power plants and even hydroelectric plants produce power in a way that is harmful to the environment, producing waste, smog, and acid rain. If you want to help the environment, fixing the problem of vampire power sources in your home is a great way to start.

Ways to Fight Back Against the Vampire Power Plague

Fighting vampire power sources does not involve garlic or wooden stakes, but instead requires you to do two simple things:

  • Identify which devices are vampire power sources, and make sure they’re off when not in use. There are now surge protectors that help regulate your vampire energy use. These surge protectors come with motion sensors and utilize occupancy-controlled outlets that power off when there’s no motion in the room for a certain amount of time. They also come with uncontrolled outlets for those appliances you need to have ready on standby.

  • Switch from these vampire power sources to more energy efficient devices. Many of these devices are vampire power sources simply because of mediocre design and construction. Any device or appliance with an energy star label is certified energy efficient. This label is recognized by several nations (including the U.S.), and these products are guaranteed to be low-energy consumption products.

Now you know vampire power sources aren’t so terrifying, but they can lead to some scary things happening to your wallet and the global climate. You’re ready now to go into your living room, bedroom, and kitchen to do what needs to be done – strip those vampire devices of their power.