The following is a great article from marketwatch.com about “vampire appliances” I came across today. I never really thought too much about it myself until I read through it.
These 11 ‘vampire appliances’ may waste $250+ a year
By Catey Hill
Published: Jan 21, 2015 3:59 p.m. ET
Even when you’re not using electronics and appliances, they may still be sucking up energy — and that can cost you hundreds of dollars each year.
The average American household spends between about $895 a year on electricity (in New Mexico, where it is least expensive) to $2,438 a year (in Hawaii, where it is most expensive), according to government data.
What’s more, roughly 10% of the average household’s energy bill is thanks to so-called “vampire appliances” — items that suck up electricity even when families are not using them — says Jeff Smith, a spokesman for utility company Pacific Gas and Electric.
That means a family who spends $2,000 on electricity each year would be wasting $200 (and sometimes far more, depending on what electronics they have in the home) simply by leaving certain items plugged in when they’re not using them. “Vampire energy … can cost your home hundreds of dollars each year,” says Gene Wang, CEO of People Power. Adds Smith: “This costs consumers more than $10 billion a year.”
Here are some of the costliest — and the most surprising — vampire appliances that may be eating into your budget, according to PG&E.
Flat screen TVs
Smith says that flat screen TVs are often the priciest vampire appliance and can, in some cases, cost you $160 a year when they’re not in use. While, of course, the simple solution is to unplug the TV when you’re not using it, the reality is that almost no one is going to do this. Charles Tran, the founder of CreditDonkey.com, offers up another solution: the advanced power strip, which prevents electronics from using power when they’re not in use; these range in cost from about $15 to $30 and thus can save you money in the long run, he adds. (Note that your DVR will not record if it is turned off, so Tran recommends connecting it to another power strip so you can leave it on (this is much less costly than a “vampire” TV).
Potential annual cost: up to about $160.
Video game consoles
Your XBox or Playstation could be costing you up to about $75 per year when you’re not using it, says Smith. But because they’re often positioned right near your television, you can use that advanced power strip to plug on both your television and video game console (as well as any other electronics you have in that area like a DVR). Or if you don’t want to go that route: “Try to group energy vampires, like your TV, game console and cable box together on one power strip — that way you can easily turn all the devices on and off with one switch,” says Wang.
Potential annual cost: up to $75.
When you leave your home computer plugged in when you’re not using it — especially when it’s not in sleep mode — you could waste up to about $40 a year, Smith estimates. And while laptops eat up less energy, you still waste nearly $20 a year leaving it on while not in use. He notes that adjusting your computer to ‘sleep’ mode after 30 minutes or less, disabling screensavers and setting the monitor to shut down after 10 to 15 minutes can save up to $40 per year.
Potential annual cost: Up to $40 for desktop computers, $19 for laptops.
DVRs and cable boxes
DVRs and cable boxes aren’t nearly as energy-sapping as your TV or video game console when they’re not in use, but plugging them into an advanced power strip (along with your TV and video game console) could save you up to about $22 a year. In general, if you aren’t sure if one of your appliances is an energy vampire, Wang recommends looking at their power supply. “Appliances that use a remote control or have a continuous display (clocks, screensavers) … are almost always energy vampires,” he says. Note that DVRs and cable boxes can take a while to reboot, so weigh the cost with convenience.
Potential annual cost: Up to $11 apiece.
Tablets and cellphone chargers
While these aren’t huge energy sucks, leaving your chargers for phones and tablets plugged in even when you’re not charging them does cost you. Smith estimates that these could set you back about $4.25 apiece per year. Considering that many families have multiple chargers plugged in at any given time, this could add up quickly. Also note that in some states you can now shop around for electricity, says Katie Brewer, a certified financial planner and owner of Your Richest Life. “Many states have deregulated electricity, which means that you may be able to get a lower rate on your electricity bill,” she says.
Potential annual cost: Up to about $4.25 per charger.
Kitchen appliances like coffee makers, toaster ovens and microwaves
Most American kitchens contain things like coffee makers, blenders, toasters, microwaves and other devices. Since each device can cost you up to about $5, you could easily be wasting $15 or more a year by leaving those appliances plugged in when you aren’t using them. It’s also important to note that for all appliances — kitchen and otherwise — you may want to inspect them for damage as this can mean they suck up more energy, says Chris Zeisler, appliance repair specialist RepairClinic.com.
Potential annual cost: Up to $5 per device.
While these aren’t major contributors to your electricity bill, the reality is that most of us don’t use our home printers very much, so there’s almost no reason to leave them on. Furthermore, homeowners may want to consider using an energy usage meter — this is basically an electricity monitor, which can be bought online or at a home improvement store for around $30, that connects to an appliance to track energy consumption — “to monitor energy consumption and discover inefficiencies to determine what needs to be unplugged or replaced,” says Zeisler; this applies to all appliances in the home that use energy.
Potential annual cost: Up to $5.