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Vampire Energy Guide

The words "Vampire Energy" in blue over a white and blue background, with an electrical outlet and a plug on the right, representing vampire power and proven ways to get rid of it.
PublishedFebruary 11, 2022
UpdatedMay 17, 2024
AuthorCory O'Brien HeadshotCory O'BrienSenior Director - Growth MarketingEditorRyan Barnett HeadshotRyan BarnettSVP, Policy & New Market Development
In this article
What is Vampire Energy?
How Does Vampire Power Work?
How Much Does Vampire Electricity Cost?
How To Stop Vampire Energy
Other Names for Vampire Energy
Kill Vampire Energy to Lower Your Bills

Getting rid of vampire electricity is one of the most effective ways of lowering your energy bill. This excess energy waste can go unnoticed for decades, and cost you hundreds in unnecessary home energy expenses. This article will examine vampire power and discuss proven ways to get rid of it so you can lower your energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint.

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What is Vampire Energy?

Vampire energy describes the electricity used by electronic devices and appliances, even when they appear to be turned off.

Known more formally as standby power, this feature keeps electronic devices in standby mode so you can activate them with a remote control or smartphone app without having to manually turn something on or plug it in every time you want to use it. In addition, anything with a clock typically uses power at all times while it’s plugged in.

Convenient? Yes. Cost-effective? Not so much.

How Does Vampire Power Work?

Many modern consumer electronics continue to use power as long as they are plugged into an outlet. Even if the device is turned “off” it continues to use electricity because they’re designed to be convenient. Standby Mode may save you from having to wait longer for your television to turn on, but the fact that it turns on quickly usually means it's been drawing power the whole time.

These common devices are among those that frequently fall prey to vampire electricity:

  • Televisions
  • Cable boxes
  • Satellite boxes
  • Internet routers
  • Internet modems
  • Stereos
  • Printers
  • Scanners
  • Cellphone chargers
  • Cordless phones
  • Game consoles
  • Cameras
  • Portable vacuums
  • Microwave ovens
  • Electric clocks

How Much Does Vampire Electricity Cost?

The amount of money you can save by turning off your vampire electronics is going to depend on the type of device, but here are some of the more common electricity wasters, based on an NRDC Report:

Type of Device Average Annual Consumption In Standby Mode (kWh) Average Annual Household Cost at $.12 per kWh
Cable Box 140.2 $16.82
TV 113.9 $13.67
Modem 96.4 $11.57
Laptop 62.2 $7.46
Printer 55.2 $6.62
Alarm Clock 25.4 $3.05
Smart Bulb 13.1 $1.57

Keep in mind, those costs are per device, so if you have 10 smart light bulbs in your home, you’re spending an extra $15 in electricity each year, even when the bulbs are turned off.

What’s the worst offender? If you leave a heated towel rack plugged in all the time, it uses around 140 watts of power 24/7, which means an average of around 1,226 kWh of electricity each year. At $.12 per kWh, that excessive energy usage means you could be spending an extra $147 each year on your utility bill just to have warm towels when you get out of the shower!

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How To Stop Vampire Energy

According to Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the annual cost of plugged-in devices when not in use is around $19 billion, or about $165 for every household. That energy waste contributes to 44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. If you’re looking for how to reduce vampire power, there are several ways to stop this wasteful electricity usage:

1. Unplug Devices After Use

This is perhaps the easiest thing to do. If you cut off the power supply, the energy guzzlers have nothing to feed on, drastically improving their energy efficiency.

2. Use Power Strips

A power strip or surge protector makes the unplugging job much easier. All you need to do is to switch off the power strip and that disconnects everything plugged into it.

There are also power strips that turn off devices depending on power usage. For instance, if you have your computer, TV, and stereo plugged into one power strip and you switch off the computer and stereo, the TV also gets turned off. Other power strips allow a master device to control how other devices use power, including turning them on and off along with any accessories these devices may have.

However, you probably have some devices that you never want to turn off, including the router that connects your home to the internet. In this case, you can purchase a smart power strip that allows you to control individual plugs via an app. That way you can turn each outlet on or off, set up a timer or schedule, and add custom automations to control specific devices.

3. Switch Off Screen Savers

If you don't want to switch off your desktop computer, you should still turn off the monitor completely instead of using a screen saver, since a screen saver keeps the monitor on and can use significant energy.

For your laptops or tablets, you should also disable the screen saver mode so you don’t waste energy, and look for other settings that maximize energy efficiency and minimize standby power usage.

4. Minimize Digital Displays

You don't need multiple appliances to light up every hour and tell you the time. Each time your coffee maker, bedside alarm clock, or DVD player light up, they silently consume more energy. Many modern electronics have ways to reduce the display options down to the bare minimum to reduce their total power consumption.

5. Adjust Power Settings on Heavily Used Devices

You can save a lot of electricity by reducing how your most popular electronics use power. Our recommendations include:

  • Disable the “Quick Start” mode on your TV
  • Set your computer to enter “Sleep Mode” after 5 to 10 minutes of inactivity
  • Turn off the “Instant On” mode for your game consoles

6. Use A Timer

Not every appliance can go a power strip, but sometimes you can install a timer instead, to help minimize power usage. Appliances such as a pool pump, hot water recirculation pump, or heated bathroom floor can be set on a firm schedule without significantly impacting their performance. Doing so ensures you only use electricity at very specific times, which helps you save energy and money on your electricity bills each month.

7. Switch to Energy Star Appliances

When your current vampire appliances start to wear out, you should replace them with new energy-efficient models that have the ENERGY STAR label. That blue Energy Star sticker guarantees that your new electronics have been designed to help you save energy, not draw vampire energy, and produce fewer emissions, and this accreditation is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Other Names for Vampire Energy

Vampire energy has attracted several aliases over the years, and these are some of the most common:

  • Vampire Electricity
  • Vampire Draw
  • Phantom Load
  • Phantom Power Loss
  • Standby Power Consumption
  • Ghost Load
  • Leaking Electricity
  • Power Leech
  • Idle Power Load

Kill Vampire Energy to Lower Your Bills

Lowering your energy bill goes hand in hand with lowering your electricity consumption. If you leave too many consumer electronics plugged in all the time, they will draw vampire electricity and make it harder to reduce your electricity bills.

While large home appliances such as ranges and washers are common examples of power leeches, energy guzzlers don't have to be large to be costly. Small devices can hog a significant amount of electricity when you consider their collective power draw. The more of them you have around your home and office, the greater the chance for increased energy waste.

Ultimately, vampire electricity is the same as agreeing to pay for services you don’t use. By letting your electronics run when you aren’t using them, you’re spending money on electricity that you could channel to more productive uses like home improvement projects, college funds, or extra spending cash. Thankfully, you can effectively rid your home of vampire power by paying attention to how your home uses energy and changing a few habits.

Once you’ve tackled the vampire energy problem, you can lower your energy bills even more and save money by installing solar panels on your home. To get started, try out our Free Solar Design and Savings Estimate Tool and find out how much you could save.

See what solar can do for you:

My electric bill is $290/mo
About the AuthorCory O'Brien HeadshotCory O'BrienSenior Director - Growth Marketing

Cory brings over 8 years of solar expertise to Palmetto, and enjoys sharing that knowledge with others looking to improve their carbon footprint. A dog lover residing in Asheville, NC with his wife, Cory graduated from UCSB. If you run into him, ask him about the company he founded to rate and review beer!

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