Your home is your sanctuary, a place of peace and happiness where you can relax and escape the stresses and dangers of the outside world. Beware: an evil lurks in your house, one that you may be feeding right now without you even knowing it. Your home may be teeming with vampires! But, don’t get out that string of garlic yet, and you can put away that wooden stake. These vampires are not the blood-sucking kind but the kind of vampires that suck electricity, costing you hundreds a year on your electrical bill. In fact, electrical vampires could account for 10% of your annual electricity consumption.
What Are Energy Vampires?
What do these electrical monsters look like? All appliances and devices, if plugged in, will consume energy, even if switched off. While many devices, such as lamps or radios, only draw a minimal amount of electricity that doesn’t really amount to much over the course of a year, the amount of electricity that others use can really add up. Televisions, DVR’s, DVD players, microwaves, and computers are big culprits. Look around your home. Do you have appliances that have a clock or timer constantly displayed, such as your microwave or stove?
It takes electricity to run the clock around the, well, clock. Do you see appliances with green lights that tell you they’re on and red ones to tell you they’re not (because the green light being off isn’t clear enough)? If so, they’re energy suckers. Laptops, phone chargers, and other devices may have a “brick” somewhere in the middle of the cord or near the plug. These devices continue to draw electricity even if your laptop or phone is finished charging and taken off the cord.
Couple these energy saving tips with some budgeting ones and soon you’ll be able to see your savings account grow!
How to Defeat the Vampires
Obviously, there are items that need to stay plugged in at all times, such as your major appliances, but there are ways to eliminate the vampires without the use of a wooden stake.
Consider devices plugged in all the time that you might not use often, such as an alarm clock in the guest room, a toaster, a can opener, a blender, or a game console. If it’s something you rarely use, unplugging it when you’re finished using it shouldn’t be much of a big deal.
Use power strips
Unplugging every vampire would be a time-consuming task, and you’d probably give up after a few days, but using a power strip that groups together devices that can be turned off at the same time such as your TV, cable box, DVR, and video game consoles will make turning them off at night convenient. Make sure your power strip has an on/off button on it and that it provides surge protection. There are also power strips with timers on them so you can set it and forget it!
Charge only until fully charged
Phones, iPads, and laptops charge quickly, so there’s no need to leave it on the charger overnight. Unplugging them usually prolongs the life of the battery as well. When you unplug after charging is complete, be sure to unplug the cord from the wall so the brick doesn’t continue to suck electricity. Don’t forget your electric toothbrush and electric razor. It may be convenient to keep them plugged in on their chargers, but it’s a big waste of electricity.
Use a plug-in meter
This electrical meter you plug an appliance or device into to gauge how much electricity it uses will let you know which of your electrical items will save you most money by unplugging! You can also get an idea of how much you’re wasting (and how much you’ll save) by using this handy calculator.
Use power saving modes
Most laptops and computers have power saving modes that’ll cause them to sleep after not being used for whatever time you wish to set.
Buy Energy Star appliances
When it comes time to replace an appliance, look at the Energy Star rating to determine its efficiency.
Use a laptop instead
They use much less energy than a desktop computer does. Additionally, consider some other ways to cut your electric bill.
Turn out the lights
Your parents were right! Having the lights on in unoccupied rooms is a big waste of electricity.
Swap your light bulbs
Swap out all your old incandescent bulbs with more efficient CFL (compact fluorescent light) or LCD ones. They have a much longer lifespan as well.
Turn down the heat
Your parents were right again! Turning your heat down just one degree can save you 3% on your heating bill, and if your furnace isn’t turning on as often, you’ll be using less electricity.
Install a programmable thermostat
No more forgetting to turn the thermostat down when you go to work or bed.
Keep your fridge full
Foods absorb the cold so it takes less time for your fridge to run to cool it.
Open a window
Don’t use your air conditioner as much. It’s easy to grow accustomed to the gentle hum of the A/C to lull you to sleep at night. Open your bedroom window instead. If you miss the gentle hum, buy a sound machine. It surely uses less electricity than your A/C unit does.
Dry your laundry on a line
Somewhere along the line (no pun intended), we lost the practice of infusing our clothes with the fresh outdoors by hanging them on a clothesline to dry. Tossing them in the dryer is certainly more convenient, but electrical clothes dryers use a lot of energy. Let the sun and a warm breeze do the work for you. Bonus: it may cut down on ironing time!
Change your filters
Regularly change the filters on your A/C unit and furnace. Dirty filters cause systems to work a lot harder than they have to. Changing them once a month during their busy seasons will allow them to work more efficiently, and prolong their lives. Your dryer’s lint trap works the same way; be sure to clean it after every use.
Install solar lights in your yard
Solar power is free!
The good news is that manufacturers are making devices that are more and more energy efficient. The bad news is that the popularity of electronic assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and smart TVs that are always standing by awaiting your voice command are creating a completely new faction of energy-sucking vampires. However, with a little investigating and a few changes, you can save energy and take a bite out of your electric bill!