As our world includes more devices, the role of energy consumption by these plugged in devices becomes an increasingly important topic. In fact, a Stanford Study showed that on average, 23% of household electricity consumption in Northern California was not only the result of plugged in devices, but idle plugged in devices. These inactive plug loads can lead to larger energy losses then you might imagine. It is estimated that the average US Household uses $165 a year in energy for devices that are always-on but inactive. Sometimes called vampire loads or phantom loads, these devices in “sleep mode” ready to come back on in a moment’s notice or drawing constant energy like a phone charger left plugged often provide little or no-benefit to the consumer.
Fortunately, a few simple steps can significantly reduce vampire loads once consumers are informed about how much energy and money is being wasted.
The first step is identifying where the idle-load energy is being consumed. Identifying those devices that are always on even when unplugged. Unplugging those devices rarely used like televisions in guest rooms and the use of smart power strips which shut off electricity unless it is really needed are easy first steps. The same strategy can be used with phone chargers, plugging them into a power strip and shutting off the power strip when not actively charging.
Checking the power settings is also a quick strategy as often the settings can be adjusted so devices power down when unused. Turning off screensavers on computers and tv’s can also lead to further load reduction.
When replacing old electronics and appliances, consider switching to energy star certified devices. These devices have lower standby consumption then average devices and use less energy all around. An advanced strategy is to measure your energy loads using a device such as the kill-a-watt electricity monitor. Taking this data and plugging into an online calculator can provide insight as to the overall consumption of the appliance. Energy.gov provides a free one at: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/appliances-and-electronics/estimating-appliance-and-home.