A new kind of vampire is sucking its way through your house, only this time it’s not after blood.
We’re talking about “vampire electronics.” A coffeemaker with a clock that runs even when the machine is not in use, a DVD player with a display that always shows, a computer on standby; all these are examples of vampire electronics.
Recent studies suggest almost 5% of all energy used in the US goes towards standby power. With new consumer gadgets, one of the biggest “vampires”, coming out all the time, that amount could reach 20% within three years. Currently almost $4 billion a year is used to power devices that aren’t being used.
The International Energy Agency recently released a report estimating the amount of energy consumed by standby products a year. They estimated vampire electronics suck up between 200 and 400 terrawatt hours a year. Compare this to Italy, which as an entire country consumes 300 terrawatt hours of energy a year.
With skyrocketing energy costs, this could become a hot button issue in the coming years. Lawmakers in California passed a proposal nicknamed the Vampire Slayers Act last year to tackle this issue. The proposal would add labels to electronic products telling the consumer how much energy is consumed when the device is on, off, or in standby mode.
According to Dave Walton, home ideas director for Direct Energy in Ohio, “It’s something people don’t know about…About 40 percent of the electricity being used to power your home electronics is consumed while they are in that standby mode. If you just focus on that piece, you will be making a big step.”
Luckily, it is easy to fight vampire electronics, and you don’t need a stake or garlic to do it. Walton recommends hooking up multiple electronics, such as a computer system with a printer, monitor, and CPU, to a single power strip. This can be easily turned on and off at night, making saving energy a bit simpler.
Turning off appliances can be effective too. According to the US Department of Energy, if only 10% of American homes switched to appliances that didn’t consume as much standby energy or turned off their electronics at night, it would reduce as much carbon emissions as planting 1.7 million acres of trees.
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