Vampires and vampire shows on TV and in the movies are still very popular; however, you should be aware that there are vampires in your home that you need to locate and kill. In the movies and on TV the vampires suck the blood of their victims by biting into the veins in their necks. In your home the vampires suck the power out of the circuits in your home. The power vampires in your home are the result of devices that never fully turn off. They are in stand-by mode, ready to come back completely on at the click of the remote. In fact it was the advent of the remote control that necessitated that the device always be partially on and ready to respond to the remote.
Both kinds of vampires are most often seen at night. The easiest way to go vampire hunting in your home, wait until dark and then turn out the lights and walk around. I think you’ll be surprised at the eerie little glows that you see in the night – those are your vampires. Those are the little standby lights on your TV or your printers or your computers or any number of other items in your house. As you walk from room to room in the dark, count the number of little glowing lights that you see. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at all of the vampire activity that is going on. You can also just go around picking up all of those little power bricks that come with almost every new device and which you leave plugged in. If they are warm that is heat from the power that they are drawing, even if the device isn’t turned on.
Now some of you may be saying that the use of the term vampire is too dramatic for such a small amount of power waste by each device. So, maybe you’d prefer the term “ticks”. Each little tick draws just a little blood. But imagine instead of one little tick there are tens of them, all sucking at once. According to one study – The average US household has a total of 50 watts of standby power going all the time. That’s 440kWh per annum per house hold or about 5% of the total consumption for that household. Across the 100+ Million homes in the US that represents 5 GW of wasted power.
If you’ve never thought about all of the things in your home that might be sucking down power when you thought they were turned off, read this government report – http://standby.lbl.gov/summary-table.html. I’ll bet there are some surprises on this rather extensive list of home items that draw standby power.
It turns out that it is probably impossible to get rid of all of the standby vampires, since some of that energy is going to maintain internal clocks that need to be kept current or they would have to be reset every time that you wanted to use the appliance or gadget. Many of the little energy suckers can be completely turned off only by unplugging them or putting them on a power strip that can be turned off. Ironically, many of those same power strips have a glowing (energy consuming) little light in the on-off switch, so that you can see them in the dark. There are many things that you can do to rid your home of most of your vampires. Here is a good video by Kansas City Power and Light on some suggestions to reduce your power losses – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJCSjsrE8ZM
So, unless you are comfortable sharing your home with vampires (or ticks) wander through tonight and see how many of the little power-suckers you have in your house. Happy vampire hunting!