NOVEC Says to Fend Off Energy Vampires

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Provided by NOVEC

Electricity courses through wires in homes, schools, and businesses just as blood courses through living creatures’ veins. While fictitious vampires materialize on Halloween and in movies, energy vampires are real. They can suck enough electricity to account for about 10% of a consumer’s electric bill. Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative says consumers don’t need garlic or wooden stakes to stop energy vampires — they need to unplug or use smart power strips.

Lisa Hooker, NOVEC public relations vice president, says, “Modern digital electronics have amazing capabilities, but they increase electric bills surreptitiously when no one is using them. Any device that has a digital display or clock is using phantom power.”

Energy Vampires

According to Energize Efficiently, an average of 27% of most energy bills goes to powering the typical 25 appliances and electronics in each household. But when devices are off, they still draw power because they are in standby mode. Energy vampires “bite and drink” power from televisions, DVD and DVR players, video game boxes, computers, tablets, monitors, printers, cordless telephones, cellphone chargers, AC adapters, microwave ovens, and digital picture frames.

How much phantom power electronics waste depends on what they do. When turned off, a coffee maker consumes a lot less electricity than a digital cable television box with DVR.

Energy vampires first appeared in the 1960s when TV manufacturers included new instant-on technology. Before then, a TV watcher had to wait a minute or two before a TV tube warmed up enough to display a picture. With the new technology, manufacturers included instant-on capabilities in other electronics.

Ways to Fend off Energy Vampires:

  • Put electronics to sleep. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends putting desktop computers, laptops, printers, copiers, and other devices on sleep mode when not using the electronics for 20 minutes or longer. DOE says, “Make sure you have the power-down feature set up on your PC [personal computer]through your operating system software. This has to be done by you; the power management features usually are not already enabled when a computer is purchased.”
  • Unplug devices or plug them into a smart power strip and then turn off the strip when not using equipment for two hours or longer. DOE explains that disconnecting from the power source will prolong a device’s useful life: “One misconception, carried over from the days of older mainframe computers, is that equipment lasts longer if it is never turned off. The less time a PC is on, the longer it will last. PCs also produce heat, so turning them off reduces building cooling loads.”
  • Unplug cellphone and AC adapters after charging batteries. Adapters typically connect to a device at one end and a wall socket on the other. They change electrical current and voltage sufficiently to charge batteries. AC adapters and battery chargers continue to draw electricity after a battery is fully charged — even when nothing is plugged into them. Look for a light or power bar on a device to see if the battery is fully charged. If so, unplug the AC adapter or charger.
  • Look for ENERGY STAR labels. DOE says, “Overall, ENERGY STAR-labeled office products use about half the electricity of standard equipment.”

Trick or Treat

Hooker says, “Vampires and phantoms can be fun on Halloween, but energy vampires and phantoms that sneak electricity year-round are all trick and no treat. Beware!”

Consumers can learn more about saving energy at novec.com/save and energy.gov.

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