Who wants to pay good money for electricity they don’t even use? Here are some common energy vampires to look for around your home.

What is an energy vampire?
If you’re a fan of pop psychology articles or the weird vampire-centric mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, you might associate the term “energy vampire” with people who, metaphorically or literally, drain your energy.

In terms of electricity usage and the impact on your electricity bill, the term “energy vampire” refers to any device that carries a phantom or standby load when not in active use.

While no one wants to simply waste power, energy vampires aren’t always as bad as they seem. For example, if you want your DVR to record a game while you’re at work, then naturally the DVR needs to maintain some sort of standby power to become active during the game and record.

But there are plenty of things around your home that don’t necessarily need to be connected and active all the time, especially if they have significant phantom loads.

How can you identify energy vampires?
Before we take a look at the most common energy vampires in the home, we want to point out that every device is different.

How much power a particular class of device can use in standby mode not only varies between models, but can vary significantly over time.
Part of this has to do with a shift to more energy-efficient components, and part of it has to do with the long-term effects of companies adhering to the guidelines outlined by programs like Energy Star and One Watt Initiative.

With that in mind, a microwave oven or multifunction printer you bought more than a decade ago might have a fairly large phantom charge, but a new one bought within the last year from the same company might have just a phantom load of a watt or less.
Common Energy Vampires Around Your House
If you’re looking for energy vampires around your home, you won’t be doing much serious bill killing worrying about small fry like cell phone chargers and smart bulbs (both I use so little idle). power is hard to measure).

So to help you in your hunt, we’ve put together a list of energy vampires ranked, roughly, in order of how much power they consume in standby mode.

Remember, the newer your device is, the more likely it is optimized for low power consumption, and the older the device, the more likely it is to have a higher standby power consumption larger than necessary. Unless you just happened to buy all the gadgets and appliances this year, then there’s a good chance there are more than a few energy vampires lurking in your home.

Cable and Satellite Boxes
In the early 2010s, there were numerous news articles about how much power cable and satellite boxes used, and for good reason, they used a ton.

They still use a chunk of power, but luckily their power consumption has improved over the years. However, despite improvements as big as a 50% reduction in power consumption for DVR-type set-top boxes, they still use a fair amount of power. It is not uncommon for DVR boxes to use 25W or more and even simple traditional cable boxes to use 15W.

At 12 cents per kWh, each of those 25W boxes in your house is costing you ~$26 a year just sitting there.

Like cable TVs, TVs have historically been on the list of energy vampires, and thanks to the advent of smart TVs with advanced features, they remain there.

Some of the newest TVs have optimized idle power consumption and draw around a single watt, but the vast majority of TVs on the market are not that light on power consumption. Without measuring, it’s safe to assume that your TV probably uses 10-20W while idle (all the TVs in my house used 14-18W).

Video Game Consoles Vintage video game consoles
are not to blame here as they tend to have little to no ghost loading.

Newer video game consoles, however, are hidden energy vampires. You know all those cool features your new console has, like instant boot and the ability to download and install a video game right after you buy it online using your computer or phone? That costs 10-15 watts of standby power.

If you look in your console’s settings, you’ll find options to disable these features and enter a true low-power standby mode, which should drop standby consumption to a watt or less.

Speakers, receivers and sound systems
Whether we’re talking about a stand-alone stereo with a receiver, a sound bar or a set of speakers that you’ve connected to pair with a Chromecast Audio or Sonos adapter, you’ll find a wide range of vampire power charges.

Something as small as a Google Nest Mini that you’ve connected to your whole house audio system only uses 2W of standby power. But larger speakers, such as a pair of tower speakers with built-in Bluetooth support or a proper stereo receiver, probably use more like 15W of power when idle.

The same goes for soundbars. Standby power of 7-10 W is quite normal, older models often use more.

Desktop Computers
Desktop computer standby power can be all over the map depending on how you set up your computer. If you leave the computer on but only the monitors go to sleep, then the computer’s “idle” power is whatever it consumes when it’s on but not under load. It could easily be 100W or more.

On the other hand, sleep mode, where the computer is not fully hibernating but is in a lower power state, consumes anywhere from 3 to 10 W more.

Hibernate mode is functionally equivalent to turning off the computer, and the only idle power consumption will be a trivial fraction of a watt used by the PSU when the computer is off.

If you assumed that your laptop uses less power than a desktop, you would be correct, but there is still power consumed in standby. When completely off, the idle power consumption is whatever the idle power of the power brick is plus whatever is needed to keep the battery going, usually only around a watt.

Sleep mode will push the phantom charge up to 2-5W. If you leave your computer running in a fully booted state, but with the screen simply turning off when not in use, you’ll be drawing whatever idle load for that laptop – anywhere from 10 to 30W.

Printers and Computer Peripherals
We can’t leave the subject of computers (and home offices by proxy) without talking about printers and peripherals.

Printer standby power can vary greatly depending on the size and age of the printer. A new smaller printer with no network functionality might only draw 3-5W, but moving to a small and modest desktop network printer and 10-20W of idle power is not unreasonable.

Add a bunch of other office stuff like a 2.1 speaker system, a monitor (or three), a VoIP or cordless phone, and so on, and you’ll easily get another 5-10W or more of idle power.

Kitchen Appliances
When it comes to kitchen appliances, standby power consumption can be all over the map. An antique microwave oven might draw 10-15W of idle power because it was built when nobody cared about power vampires, but a microwave purchased in recent years might only use 0.5W.

You probably won’t unplug your stove or microwave to save a few dollars a year on electricity. However, you should definitely unplug anything else that has a display or any kind of always-on smart features that you’re not actively using. And if you’re in the market for a new microwave, consider that at 12 cents kWh, replacing an old one that uses 10W of idle power with a new one that uses 0.5W would save you about $10 a year.

Battery Chargers
It would be easy to assume that a battery charger doesn’t do anything when it’s not charging a battery, but that’s not always the case.

The basic chargers we use to charge cordless drills, yard tools like cordless leaf blowers, and even simple household rechargeable batteries can draw 3-5W even when the battery is removed from the charger.

In the end, 5W here or 5W there doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you think about how nearly every room in your house has multiple devices burning electricity while doing nothing useful for you, it really does. gather. By unplugging devices you don’t use, you can easily cut $100 (or more!) off your electric bill each year.

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