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Vampire Energy: The Demon Lurking In Your Outlet

Learn what vampire power is and how to combat this common household electric drain.
Vampire Energy: The Demon Lurking In Your Outlet

What is Vampire Energy?

Vampire Energy, also known as Vampire Power or standby energy, is the term used to refer to appliances that drain energy even when they are shut off. These unassuming devices can account for as much as 20% of your monthly electric bill but can often be hard to detect.

Every appliance or device that remains plugged into an outlet while not being used continues to pull electricity out. While many of these have standby or sleep modes, they don’t fully shut the device off. Often, they are using small amounts of energy to perform updates, connect to remote servers, and record data. While this usage may be small on the day-to-day level, it adds up over the month and year, leading to an increase in your utility cost that you may not be aware of.

Modern technology has many advantages, one of which is speed and connectivity. However, there is a price to pay for this. For example, even when your TV is off, it is still ready to receive a signal from your remote to power on at any moment, and it is lying in wait to connect to your WiFi once it has been activated. This leads to a better user experience, but it also means there’s a hidden utility cost built in.

How to Identify Energy Vampires in Your Home?

One of the easiest ways to identify the Energy Vampires in your home, is to take a look at the power cord attached to them. Oftentimes these appliances will use cords that contain “bricks” and “wall warts”.

A wall wart, otherwise known as an AC adapter, is that large plug you find at the end of the cord. These are the type of adapters that almost completely cover your outlet when plugged in. You see these often in older phone chargers and probably have one lying around the house somewhere. When left plugged in, these wall warts continue to consume energy even if the device attached to them is not being used.

Bricks are the large black boxes that are found in the middle of your appliance cord. You often find bricks on power cords for computers, televisions, gaming consoles, and some cable TV equipment. As with our power draining nemesis the wall wart, bricks also continuously consume energy while plugged in, even if your device is not in use.

What Devices Are Responsible for Vampire Energy in Your Home?

One of the largest culprits of Vampire Energy in the home are remote ready devices. These appliances remain in a standby state when switched off, meaning they are ready to receive order to switch on at any time. These appliances usually require a one-button operation to wake them, and a physical remote is not necessary to add them to this category. So that DVD Player you’ve had plugged in for the last four years, but have only used once, might be costing you more than you think. Below are some of the some of the largest remote ready Energy Vampires found in the average American home:

  • Televisions
  • Video Game Consoles
  • Desktop Computers
  • Laptops
  • Cable and Satellite TV Boxes
  • DVD and Blue-Ray Players
  • Printers
  • Standby Coffee Makers
  • Devices with a standby light or clock

How do you slay the Energy Vampires in your home?

The quickest, and most obvious way to cut down on vampire drain in your home is to unplug these devices while you are not using them. However, that is not always an easy solution, especially for devices like computers which many of us use daily.  There are a few additional things you can do to help cut down on standby power drain.

  • Use power strips. Power strips provide you with the convenience of turning them off when not in use. Consider plugging wall warts and bricks into power strips, especially in an office setting, and turning them off when you are finished using them.
  • Use smart power strips. While this is a piggyback off our first recommendation, smart power strips make the process even simpler by automatically cutting off power when devices are not in use.
  • Switch to more energy efficient appliances. When its time to replace old or broken appliances, look for products that are more energy efficient and have a lower than average standby consumption rate. Try searching for Energy Star appliances next time you upgrade.
  • Unplug your devices once they are fully charged. Don’t leave your phone or tablet charger plugged into the wall once fully charged. Faster charging times due to technological advances mean you don’t need to leave your iPhone plugged in for 8 hours overnight while you sleep. A small wall wart, is still a wall wart, and its consuming energy while you’re not using it.
  • Unplug devices that you don’t use often. While we mentioned unplugging devices earlier, we still feel this warrants its own point. Unplug that DVD player you don’t use or the spare TV in your guest room that hasn’t been watched in the past month. Take a look around your home and see what devices or appliances aren’t part of your daily routine, but are still plugged in and driving up your monthly electric bill.
  • Install PowerX smart energy monitoring sensors in your home. PowerX sensors show you exactly what's going on in your home in real-time and can help you pinpoint what appliances might be the energy vampires lurking in your home. Never be surprised by a utility bill again!

Lowering vampire power in your home won't completely eliminate your power bill, however it can help to lower it. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that around 23% of American power consumption is in the form of “idle load electricity.” Lowering the power cost of these Energy Vampires in your home can have a big impact on your monthly bill, and as an added benefit, it makes us all a little more green.


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