Put a stake through vampire energy-suckers

Vampire power is a term coined to describe electrical power wasted by typical household electronics when they are plugged in but not in use.

Not all electrical devices are vampires, but devices with LED lights, digital displays, plug-in chargers or remote controls typically suck power when not in use and bleed your pocketbook of hard-earned cash.

Computers, modems, televisions and other electronic devices are the most active vampires in your home. Digital cable boxes with DVR devices are the worst offenders. A well-rounded plan of attack against these home vampires can reduce your energy bill by 10 percent and make your bank account a little less anemic. Use these simple “wooden stakes” to control the power-sucking abilities of electrical vampires.

Stake 1: Unplug devices when not in use. When in doubt, pull the plug. Energy cannot be wasted if the plug is not in the outlet.

Stake 2: Use surge protectors or power strips whenever possible. Use the on/off switch on the power strip to completely cut off the electrical supply to both regular and vampire devices.

Stake 3: Purchase Energy Star appliances and devices. Energy Star-rated appliances use 50 percent less vampire power than their average non-Energy Star counterparts.

Stake 4: Use “Smart Strip” surge protectors for computer and audio/video devices. Smart strips come in various configurations. Typically they have a “master” outlet and several “slave” outlets. When the device plugged into the master outlet is idle or off, the smart strip senses this and automatically turns off the power to the “slave” devices. Plug your computer into the “master” outlet and your printers and other peripherals into the slave outlets to save energy when your computer is not in use.

Stake 5: Use the “other” off switch. Many appliances and devices have a regular power switch that puts the device into a stand-by mode or sleep mode, allowing a continuous amount of power to be sucked from the wall outlet. Often there is a second power switch to the back of the device, near the power cord, that will completely cut off power to the device.

Stake 6: Unplug chargers from the wall when not in use. Battery chargers for cell phones, laptops and power tools continue to suck power after the device is fully charged or even removed. Pull the charger out of the wall socket to stem its vampire capabilities.

By Linda Cottin

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