You turn off the television when you’re not watching it because it saves you money, right? Not so.
If you can see lights from all the extra gear you have connected to the television, the juice still is flowing and the meter still is running. That can mean your cable box, DVD player, Wii or Xbox, and your stereo are pulling energy even though they're not being used.
If you turn off the lights in your house and navigate by flashlight, you’ll spot many of the energy thieves at work. Laptops and computers in sleep or standby mode, coffee makers on a timer set to start up in the morning, cellphone adapters and telephone chargers are all energy thieves that increase your energy bill. So are clock radios, rechargeable electric toothbrushes and printers on standby.
Called “vampires” or “phantom loads,” these appliances pull energy even when they’re not in use.
Here are some tips for dealing with energy vampires:
• Unplug, especially if it’s a device you don’t use every day.
• Use a power strip to easily turn off multiple devices.
• Have an energy audit done to see where your biggest expenses are. Or invest in a Kill A Watt electricity-usage monitor (www.p3international.com) to see how much energy your individual appliances are using.
• If you need a night-light for small children but forget to turn it off during the day, invest in the type that only comes on when it's dark.
• Turn off your electronics gear and step outside to your meter. You’ll likely see it still running, possibly from all the other “sleeper” appliances.
• When it’s time to buy a new appliance, go for the ENERGY STAR models. Look for the big yellow tag on the side that tells you the appliance’s rating.
• If you have pets, you might be guilty of keeping appliances on for their comfort. Reconsider whether your pet needs human-type temperatures.
To learn more, go online to energy.gov and put “vampire loads” in the search box.