Are You Living with Vampires?

Werewolves aren’t real, and you may not believe in ghosts, but chances are your home is full of vampires. And just like in the movies, these undead creatures can seem friendly and charming to the point we like having them around. But unlike the mythical monsters, these ghouls don’t feed on blood, they’re nourished by electricity, electricity you pay for to the tune of hundreds of dollars every year. And their appetite is growing.

The Price of Convenience

Today we have the world at our fingertips. With a click or a tap we read the latest news, stay connected with family and friends, listen to personalized music playlists, and watch the movies and TV shows we want to watch, when we want to watch them. Our coffee is waiting in the morning and our refrigerator can tell us what we need to pick up on the way home.

But this convenience comes with a price.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, 30% of home energy use goes toward powering lights, appliances, and other devices. That can represent 50% or more of your electric bill. Refrigerators and air conditioning are the next highest consumers of electricity, and while programmable thermostats, low-energy lighting, and efficient appliances are great ways to save on your electricity costs, letting vampires run free can take a bite out of your wallet—$200 or more annually in a typical home.

Finding the Vampires

If you’re going to kill vampires, you need to know where they sleep. Here are some of their hiding places:

  • Flat screen TVs
    Potential annual cost: $160 each
    Flat screen “smart” TVs are loaded with features and many of them are working even when you turn your TV “off.” That’s because it’s not really off, it’s just in standby mode, waiting for a wakeup call. And running things in the background.
  • Gaming Consoles
    Potential annual cost: $75 each
    Like your TVs, gaming consoles are never off as long as they’re connected to power.
  • Computers
    Potential annual cost: $40 for desktops, $20 for laptops
    Computers actually have an “Off” switch but plenty of people never use it, leaving them on 24/7. Guess they feel the 47-second boot-up is time they’ll never get back.
  • DVRs and Cable Boxes
    Potential annual cost: $22 each
    This one’s tricky because they don’t work if they’re not on and that means missing out on programming that’s on when you’re not around. So $22 isn’t a lot to pay for the convenience, but, depending on your equipment setup, you probably only need one on to get the job done. And if you have secondary DVRs or Bluetooth devices, leave them off until you need them.
  • Smart Appliances and Devices
    Potential annual cost: maybe a little; maybe a lot
    You probably have more “smart” appliances than you realize. From coffeemakers to thermostats, anything with a timer or remote control is drawing current to do its duty. And with truly smart appliances, light bulbs, thermostats, and security systems gaining popularity, that load is increasing. It’s a tradeoff between cost and convenience; just know what you’re paying for and how much it costs.

Keeping Vampires Under Control

Garlic won’t work to keep these electronic vampires at bay, but switches and power strips will. Here are some ideas:

  • Use Power Strips
    This is a good idea under any circumstances since power strips with surge protection keep sensitive devices safe from voltage spikes. Use them to plug in multiple devices in your entertainment center or office that you can turn off without losing important functions. TVs, music and video players, printers, monitors, fax machines can all be turned off at the power strip until you need them. Plug devices like cable boxes and routers that need to be always on into a separate outlet.
    There are even “advanced” power strips that have features like timers and remote controls. Take a look at this infographic from the National Renewable Energy Lab for more information.
  • Use Switched Outlets
    If a power strip is inaccessible, plug it into a switched wall outlet. Then you can turn things off and on with the flick of a switch.
  • Set Shorter “Sleep” Times
    Computers, monitors, and even many TVs and sound systems have programmable sleep times. Instead of using factory defaults that can be half an hour or more, set them to shorter cycles and reduce power consumption during idle times.

The Bigger Picture

Living with vampires in your home is a tradeoff between convenience and savings. But it goes beyond that. Two hundred dollars a year may not seem like a lot, but when it’s added up over the millions of homes nationwide, it creates more than $10 billion in demand along with its associated infrastructure and environmental costs.

Allstar Electrical Services is committed to responsible, safe energy use without compromising convenience. If you need additional outlets, conversion to switched outlets, or any other electrical services, give us a call at 303.399.7420 or visit our website. We’ve served the Front Range for over 15 years and are top-rated by the BBB.