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Standby Power and Energy Vampires

What is Standby Power and what does it have to do with vampires?

Standby power is the energy used by some products when they are turned off but still plugged into a power/wall outlet. While this standby power sometimes provides useful functions such as remote control, clock displays, and timers, in other cases it is simply wasted power as a result of leaving an electronic device or power adapter plugged in. The devices causing this waste are referred to as energy vampires because these products are slowing sucking energy from your home while not providing any useful function! In addition to your home office and home electronics equipment, chargers for cell phones, ipods, power tools, etc also suck energy from your home when they are plugged into an outlet, even if they aren't charging.

Is standby power significant enough to worry about?

Yes, the amount of energy used by products when they are in standby mode is significant. The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off (or in standby mode). On a national basis, standby power accounts for more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs.

How can I slay the energy vampires in my house?

  • Look for ENERGY STAR when shopping. All ENERGY STAR qualified products are among the lowest power consuming in their category in standby mode.
  • Enable the ENERGY STAR power management settings on your computer and monitor, so they go into power save mode when not in use.
  • Use a power strip as a central "turn off" point when you are done using equipment, which completely disconnects the power supply. You can use one for your computer and all peripheral equipment, and another for your home electronics (TV, VCR, DVD, stereo, gaming). Keep in mind though that if you've set a timer to wake up a product, such as programming a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) to record a program, then the product must remain plugged in (and able to draw standby power) to function as intended.
  • Unplug your chargers: cell phone chargers, camera chargers, battery chargers or power adapters, etc. These are drawing some amount of energy even when not in use (and even when not connected to an end-use product).