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Combating the Vampires Among Us. A Simple Method for Reducing Energy Consumption?

A species of vampires has proliferated under our very noses. Instead of blood, they suck electricity; instead of sharp pointy teeth, they rely on power plugs.

These “vampires” take the shape of home electronic appliances which continue to use electricity even when turned “off.”

Examples of such energy waste include printers which perpetually remain in standby mode, in case they receive a signal to print. Many cellphone chargers, while plugged in all night, continue to deliver a charge even after the battery is fully recharged. Finally, appliances with displays such as digital clocks require a constant source of power.

According to the US Energy Department, 25% of the power consumed by home electronics is consumed while they are turned off.

How can this waste of energy be prevented?

Few individuals make a ritual of going around their house and unplugging each gadget before going to sleep. Fortunately, several options are available to keep the vampires at bay.

First, several devices such as cellphone chargers can be plugged in to a power strip. When the devices are not in use, simply turn the power strip off.

More sophisticated power strips employ a “master-slave” arrangement which cuts off power to the “slave” outlets when the “master” is turned off. For example, shutting off your computer means that you will probably not be needing the speakers, printer, and other accessories.

Finally other alternatives include power strips which employ timers and automatically turn off after a certain amount of time (allowing you to recharge your cellphone for an hour at night) or power strips equipped with motion sensors that turn off after 15 minutes of inactivity.

Power strips such as Belkin’s “Conserve AV” are widely available at your local Home Depot. For $30, an expense easily recouped over the course of a year, you can be saving energy without even thinking about it.

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