The phrase “vampire power” is becoming common language in the eco-friendly community and we are out to decipher what it actually means and give you some advice on how to prevent vampire power and save some easy money in the process.
Vampire or standby power is the electricity that devices use when they are plugged in and not actively turned on or in use. According to Standby Power, “an individual product draws relatively little standby power but a typical American home has forty products constantly drawing power. Together these amount to almost 10% of residential electricity use.” For example, most people have cell phone chargers that they leave plugged into their wall 24 hours a day. When the phone is not actually plugged in and charging, that charger is using, on average .26 watts. That is not a lot of energy by itself but if a household has 20-40 items that are always plugged in and drawing some power, it adds up. To put it into an even larger perspective, on a national basis, standby power accounts for more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs (EnergyStar.gov).
From a business perspective, we wanted to use some of this information to save some money off our bottom line. By investigating and doing some of our own research we found that each workstation in the office accounts for around $38.00/year* in electricity used while in standby mode. Multiply that by how many people in the office and the savings add up, and think of all the wasted energy being used when no one is even at the office.
In order to reduce the amount of standby power you consume, there are many options. One way would be to unplug all of your appliances, electronics, and chargers when you are not actively using them. This would work and is free but seems to be a massively inefficient use of your time. Another option is getting a basic power strip/surge protector with an on/off switch. When you are finished in your office or with the entertainment system you can switch off the power strip and now these devices will be immune from the bite of vampire power. Another, more modern option is to make a small investment into a smart power strip (We like the TrickleStar Powertap and the EcoStrip; they claim you can save up to $100/year on each computer and they plant a tree for every EcoStrip sold). The smart power strip does what a basic strip does automatically. It senses when you turn off the main device (ie. TV or computer) then it shuts off the power to all the peripheral devices plugged into that power strip (DVD player, game device, sound system, monitor, printer, speakers, etc.).
Also, when buying new products, be sure to look for the EnergyStar rating as these products are some of the lowest rated standby power users (meaning they use minimal power when in standby mode). In addition to buying smart, when using a computer or TV make sure to enable the EnergyStar power management settings so they go into power saving mode when not in use.
All in all, these are some relatively small and inexpensive steps each and every one of us can take in order to save energy, money, and reduce our carbon footprint. Happy savings!
*Estimated that the average workstation is in standby mode for 6,735 hours per year (employee “out of the office”). We used power use data on an average Desktop computer, monitor, fax machine, and printer in sleep mode and based our calculations on $0.19/kWh electric rate.