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Save Money and Help the Environment: Learn How to Slay Energy Vampires

By Kathy Montgomery

Stop wasting energy conceptFrom the nearest cineplex to the pages of a classic bodice ripper, the undead are all the rage these days. But bet you didn’t know there are vampires lurking in your home at this very moment. We don’t mean the garlic-fearing, casket-dwelling, “I vant to suck your blood” variety, but we do mean something as equally insidious, at least when it comes to your monthly electric bill: energy vampires. These are appliances that draw power 24 hours a day, even when you think they’re not in use. And while you can’t kill them with a stake to the heart, there are other ways to save money and safeguard the planet.

Stealing Your Energy

While leaving your cell phone charger or printer plugged into an outlet may seem harmless, it’s not. According Standby Power, nearly every household product with an external power source draws energy continuously when plugged in, even when turned off. The average American household squanders $130 dollars on energy vampires every year, according to the Department of Energy.

While that may not sound like much, multiply it by 117 million households, and you’ve got $4 billion worth of wasted energy on your hands. In fact, this type of wasted power accounts for a whopping 10 percent of total residential energy use in the United States, Standby Power reports. You can find a table of the hundreds of household products which draw on standby power on the Standby Power website.

Stick a Stake in Them

The average homeowner can prevail by taking a few simple steps:

  • Seek out Energy Star-qualified products
  • Set your computer to “power save mode”
  • Use a central power strip to simultaneously disconnect a suite of electronics with the simple flip of a switch
  • Unplug your chargers, power adapters, toasters and other devices when not in use

This isn’t just about saving money; it’s also about the future. While your kids may not understand dollars and cents, they do understand protecting the world in which they live, learn and play. Involve them in the action by declaring them energy vampire hunters. By using this handy information to seek out and slay the energy vampires in your home, you not only gain a fatter bank account, but you also join the fight for a brighter future. Unfortunately, we can’t help you with the zombies.


Kathy used to design and build eco-friendly homes for first-time home buyers in Northern Virginia.

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