They may not wear a black cape and startle you with sharp fangs, but these vampires also strike at night and instead of draining blood, they will slowly but surely drain money from your wallet. It's not that keeping electrical appliances plugged in isn't practicing electrical safety, but that you could be saving energy by unplugging these energy vampires – those appliances that you leave plugged in overnight and beyond, even when you don't need them or after they've become fully charged.
A toaster may consume only one or two watts of wasted electricity, but computers and TVs are truly voracious energy vampires. (These vampires do not count clock displays, remote controls and timers among their ranks; these devices rely on standby power to continue to run without interruption and so stand in a group by themselves).
Leaving appliances plugged in 24 hours a day seems harmless enough until the bottom line comes to light like a vampire facing the sun: the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that as much as 10 percent of the $2,000 that most American families spend every year on energy is wasted on energy vampires. Collectively, Americans waste an astounding $10 billion a year to “feed” these vampires.
If you want to drive a stake through the heart of this menace – and save money, become more eco-conscious, and practice better electrical safety at the same time – you'll want to go through your home, room by room, and unplug the appliances that you're not using right now. (We don't mind tipping our hand a bit: this is Plan A. Read on and we'll fill you in on Plan B).
If your home is like many of those in America, you have several dozen energy vampires that you can “slay” with ease, including:
- Alarm clocks
- Answering machines
- Cable boxes
- Cell phones and chargers
- Coffee makers
- Computers and monitors
- DVD players
- Fax machines
- Microwave ovens
- Printers, copiers and scanners
- Video games
- Wireless routers
Be Wise But Be Practical
You probably get the idea: virtually any electrical appliance that you leave plugged in is a potential energy vampire and so should be unplugged. This said, it's not always practical to do so. For example, unplugging your cable box might prove to be more of a hassle than it's worth since every time you plug it back in, it will need time to reprogram itself. This is why we left washers and dryers off this vampire “kill” list. Although they consume lots of energy, moving them aside to unplug them may not be practical for you – or even possible.
Electrical Safety and Saving Energy
This is when it's time to turn to Plan B, which you can implement in any room in your home – and not just the laundry area: Cluster the power cords from a group of appliances and plug them into the same power strip. With one flip of a switch, all of the appliances can be turned off at once. This is a practical idea for home offices, where you can group together computers, scanners and printers into the same power strip. Create your own grouping area for your family's cell phones and chargers. You'll reap the added advantage of organization and knowing exactly where your phones are at all times.
Naturally, it helps right off the bat to purchase only Energy Star appliances, which have passed stringent efficiency standards set by the department of energy and so cost you less to operate. And, when you can, program your electronics to revert to “save” mode when you're not using them.
For more electrical safety tips around your home, download the free eBook below and keep it close by: