This Halloween, banish these bloodsucking vampires from your home

Vampire energy
CC BY 2.0 Suzie Tremmel

Sink your teeth into these vampire slaying tips to cut electricity use at home, which can save you money and increase your overall energy efficiency.

Appliances and gadgets that suck up electricity even when we're not using them are referred to as energy vampires, but a more apt term might be vampire zombies, because they keep mindlessly devouring electricity, contributing to air pollution, climate change, and increased home energy costs. You don't need garlic or a stake or a silver bullet to keep these bloodsuckers at bay, but you do need to be smart about how you set up and use your devices.

Over at NRDC, Noah Horowitz (Director of NRDC's Center for Energy Efficiency) lays out some good tactics and tips to help put those energy vampires on a diet, which could save you more than $100 a year in energy costs. According to his article, at least 10% of the electricity used in American homes is consumed as 'standby power' for appliances and gadgets, all so that we can save a couple of seconds the next time we want to use them. It's convenient for us, but this 'standby power' contributes to not only our own energy bills, but also to the bigger problem of fossil fuel pollution and GHG emissions.

The following tips from Horowitz are some of the low-hanging fruits for reducing home energy consumption:

  • Use a 'smart' power strip to automatically cut power to peripherals when the primary device is turned off, such as the game console, DVD player, or stereo, which can continue to draw power even when the TV is off.
  • Watch movies on the TV, not the game console. Using a game console to stream a movie can consume 10 to 20 times the amount of energy than an internet-connected TV or alternate media player like Apple TV or Roku,

  • Ask for the latest energy efficient set-top box from your cable or pay-TV provider. Some of these devices, especially the older ones, continue to pull full power even if they appear to be off.

  • Put your computers to sleep. Instead of having a screensaver displayed when not using the computer, adjust the settings so that the monitor turns off after 10 to 15 minutes of inactivity, and the computer itself goes to 'sleep' after 30 minutes or less of inactivity.

  • Disable the quick start feature on your TV. Some of the modern 'smart' TVs that connect to the internet will continually use anywhere from 10 to 24 watts, even when not being used, if the Quick Start feature is enabled.

  • Adjust your thermostat and water heater settings. A programmable thermostat can make it easy to cut down on heating or cooling costs when there's nobody home, and the settings should be reviewed and changed as the seasons and schedules change. The water heater temperature can also be changed, not only so that scalding hot water doesn't need to be cooled down as much with cold water at the tap, but also so the water heater doesn't have to maintain as high of a temperature all day and all night.

Vampire energy infographic© NRDC

Read the original piece over at NRDC: Halloween Energy Vampires Survival Guide 2014

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