Slay The Power Sucking Vampire

We have always been instructed  to switch off electrical appliances like fans lights etc. when not in use. After all continuous  use of these devices burn a big hole in our purses. It’s a very good habit and should be inculcated from a young age. Other ways to decrease electricity bills are use of energy efficient devices like CFL’s, five star rated kitchen and home appliances. I  have all CFL’s in my house and I observed a drastic change in my electricity bill after changing my old refrigerator with a new, bigger and energy efficient one. The electricity bill dropped by half in the first month itself. All these efforts are very necessary for conserving our resources and reducing our carbon footprint.

We put all our effort in this direction but most of us don’t know that there is also a Power Sucking Vampire  loose in our house. This vampire unlike the ones in the stories stalks us throughout the day and keeps sucking our money 24/7.

Vampire power, also known as phantom loads or standby power, is the energy used by certain plugged-in appliances and electronic devices, even when they are in standby mode or turned off. The Energy Information Administration reports that in the United States alone, vampire power costs individuals several billion a year. It might seem like a trivial amount but wasted energy can add up over time and show up on our monthly utility bills. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as much as 10 percent of residential electricity use goes toward powering appliances in standby power mode. The only benefit to putting an appliance in standby is the appliance turns on more quickly.  If we don’t mine spending less than a minute for TV or computer to start we can save a lot of power. Best way to reduce this power loss is to unplug the devices when not in use. I am listing some of the devices.


1. Chargers:-  Chargers, have been nicknamed “wall      warts” because they can waste up to 50 percent of power since they’re      always plugged in. They continually provide a charge even if there is no      device. Cell phone chargers are the easiest items to      unplug–they’re useless without your phone!

2. Laptop:- Even if laptop is fully charged,  if it’s plugged into the wall, it’s still using energy. Best is to unplug  it while  not working.

3. Devices with electronic display:- Other devices, such as electric coffee pots or microwaves use vampire   power to keep clocks working or to illuminate digital displays.  Devices  with remote controls like Air conditioners or water heaters, music systems  have LED light glowing when in ready to use mode. Unplug  toaster, coffee pot, microwave, TV, DVD player, surround sound, computer and  any other appliance that aren’t currently in use or don’t need at a  moment’s notice. Just turning something off does not stop the flow of   electricity. Many newer model televisions and entertainment systems  require a large amount of electricity to maintain standby.

4. TV:- Plasma  TVs can suck up over 1,400 kilowatt hours annually. The simplest way to   save energy is to unplug TV when not watching it . We may only watch 3 or  4 hours of TV a day, but it keeps sucking away like a hungry animal for   the other 20 hours. LCD screens still waste energy too, though   substantially less. In India 80% TV’s are the older versions with picture tube but they are attached to a stabilizer which is often left on when the TV is turned off by remote. This is again a power waste.

Steps to reduce the phantom load

One cell phone charger plugged doesn’t seem to do much damage but if we consider all the DVD’s microwaves, music systems, AC’s etc plugged in  homes across the world, vampire power can does a lot of  damage. Many electrical devices use more energy and cost consumers more in the hours they’re not being used simply from vampire power drain. It’s like the dripping tap. Few drops doesn’t seem much but when added up for longer periods it’s a lots of water.

There is only one simple solution to this problem “UNPLUG when not needed”.

Rest of other solutions discussed like using power strips etc. are more pro convenience. So unless you really need the device to start up in a moment as in hospitals emergency rooms, one can always wait a minute for the device to start working. Maybe 5 minutes per day and we can leave this planet still habitable for our children and their children.


A physicist turned green living advocate.

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  • 9 March, 2014 at 10:51 am

    This is very useful.. I have been following this thanks to my parents …but never realized that charger without phone could consume energy….great….


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