How To Reduce Vampire Power
Vampires, Phantoms, and Bears, Oh My!
Okay, so there aren’t any bears in this story. But there are vampires, phantoms, idlers, and warts. In this case, however, we’re talking about vampire power, phantom loads, idling standby current, and wall warts. They all basically refer to the same thing: electronic devices with two sharp, pointy teeth that latch into your wall sockets and suck blood…err…electricity all day, all night, whether on or “off,” whether charging batteries or not. These devices include TV’s, VCR’s, DVD players, answering machines, iPods, cell phones, stereos, laptops, desktops, anything with a remote, anything with a charger, anything with a clock display. They are everywhere. Lurking.
Top 10 ways for you to fight the vampires
- Unplug your devices. It’s as simple as that. Pull TV/computer/stereo/etc power cords out of the outlet. If they’re not in use or if they’re totally unneccesary (are you really going to ever use that VCR player again?), unplug.
- Reduce your demand. Sure, electronic gizmos are fun. But do you really need 2 TVs for one room? If the answer is yes, then at least follow number 6′s advice!
- Use the other off switch. Many devices also have an ‘off’ switch in the back. For example, most computers come with one ‘soft’ power switch on the front, which takes it from standby to on. Separately, there is usually a real ‘on/off’ switch located in the back on the power supply (near where the power cord goes in).
- Plug your devices and chargers into a power strip. And when you’re not using those devices, turn off your power strip.
- Remove chargers from the wall when you’re not charging. Your cell phone charger, iPod charger, laptop charger, etc. keeps drawing electricity even if your phone/Ipod/laptop/etc isn’t charging. So if your phone says “Charge complete” (or worse, isn’t even attached to your charger), pull out the charger.
- If you’re in the market for new electronics, buy Energy Star qualified. Energy Star takes standby power into account and their qualified devices draw less than the average when in their “off” mode. Some of their best electronic items include cordless phones and audio equipment.
- Get a cell phone that tells you to unplug it. Nokia announced in May 2007 that it will be rolling out new phones with audible alerts (they say, “Battery is full, please unplug the charger.”) This feature will first appear in models 1200, 1208 and 1650 (they will most likely start in Europe).
- For your various computer accessories, try a smart strip. These work really well when it’s not feasible to be constantly unplugging your devices. Check out the Isole Plug Load Control. This power strip saves energy by monitoring occupancy. The Smart Strip Power Strip monitors power differences between computers and peripherals. This way, when you shut down your computer, the Smart Strip automatically shuts off the accessories. The Mini Power Minder also works by communicating between your computer and your accessory.
- To learn about the power consumption of your electronics, look into a Kill-A-Watt. This device will tell you about the efficiency of your electronics, whether turned on or “off.” It can actually be kind of fun (and definitely enlightening) to run around your house and see how much juice each piece of equipment takes, in both and and standby mode. You’ll likely be surprised. (If you want something a little more hardcore, try Watts Up?).
- If you’re up for a whole house project, check out GreenSwitch, a wireless home energy control system that let’s you cut off power to your various electronics quite easily. For other whole house devices and monitoring, here’s an interview that might be right up your alley.
Vampires To Watch Out For
|Vampire||Average (W)||Silver Stake (or what to do)|
|Desktop computer||73.97 W when on and idle (21.13 W when asleep and 2.84 when off)||
|Laptop||44.28 W when on and charging (and down to 4.42 W with just the power supply plugged in)||
|DVR and digital cable combo||44.63 W when not recording with the TV off…but still a whole 43.46 W even when it’s turned off by remote||
|Microwave||When it’s off with the door closed, it’ll use about 3W (with the door open, you’re looking at 25.79 W and when you’re cooking…a whole 1433 W)||
|Cell phone charger||When you’re phone is plugged in but fully charged, you’re drawing 2.24 W (and when the charger alone is stuck in the wall you’re down to 0.14 W)||
The moral of the story….unplug your stuff.