Top Four Ways to Reduce Vampire Power

As temperatures in the DC region edged above 100 degrees and most residents cranked up their air conditioners, many feared the energy bill to come at the end of the month. How can you keep your energy bill down to manageable levels?

One easy way is to limit the amount of energy you waste powering appliances you’re not even using.  True Blood has vampires, but your kitchen has vampire power.  Vampire power is the power that appliances use when in standby mode – think of the clock on your microwave.  As the New York Times has reported, standby power drives the power usage of certain home appliances – for example, DVR set top boxes consume more energy than an entire Energy Star refrigerator.

So what can you do about it?  Here’s our list of the top four things you can do to kill the vampire in your home:

  1. Buy appliances with low standby power energy demand
  2. Put large appliances on smart strips
  3. Put occasionally used appliances on power strips and turn them off when not in use
  4. Install a kill switch in your house

1.  Buy appliances with low standby power energy demand

Our lab tests show there can be large differences in standby power between brands in the same product category.  But finding information on real life product energy usage is hard.  We hope to make this kind of information far easier to find with our in-store launch in fall 2011, so make sure you check back here.  In the meantime, when possible purchase Energy Star and FEMP approved products.

2.  Put large appliances on smart strips

Several products on the market enable consumers to mindlessly reduce the amount of vampire power their products use.  There are a variety of models on the market, including EcoStrip and Smart Strip, that work by turning off auxiliary devices (like speakers, dvr, bluray player) when the main power draw is turned off (the television).  This saves energy that would have otherwise been drawn to power these auxiliary devices when not in use.  These products go on sale often – so if you’re ready to buy, make sure you keep an eye out for reduced prices.

3.  Put occasionally used appliances on power strips and turn them off when not in use

Smart strips automatically turn off devices when not in use – but there’s no rule against doing this yourself.   If you don’t have a smart strip, manually turn off power strips when you’re finished using an electronic device – particularly those that you only use occasionally.  A good first step is to put all of your charging devices on the same power strip – your cell phone, ipod, digital camera – and turn off the strip when nothing needs to be charged.  When you’re ready to charge something, turn the strip on.

4.  Install a kill switch in your house – like the Green Switch

Some homes are built with garlic.  By installing a kill switch in your house, you can eliminate all of the vampire power for your appliances with one easy flip of a switch.  When you leave the house, go on vacation, or go to sleep, you don’t need to use energy and switches like the Green Switch make it easy to stop.­­­­­­­

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