Slay energy vampires this Halloween

As little ghosts and ghouls prepare to come out in search of Halloween treats, be sure you don’t have any silent menaces lurking around your office or home tricking you into using more energy!

Energy vampires are electronic devices that slowly suck energy when they are turned off but still plugged in. They provide no useful function in this state but still waste energy and money. Individually, each device uses only small amounts of electricity, but added together, these devices are often responsible for 10 percent of an average home’s energy bill. These small phantom loads add up to a significant energy demand when multiplied across the thousands of students, faculty and staff on Vanderbilt’s campus each day.

Curious as to whether your electronics are vampires? A good indicator is a glowing light that remains on even when you power off the device. Devices with standby capability—such as a remote control or anything with a constant digital display, including photocopiers, computer monitors, TVs, cable boxes, microwaves, DVD players and stereo systems—are common energy vampire culprits. And don’t forget about those phone and tablet chargers. See a table of the average energy usage of many household and office devices here.

“Reducing energy vampires at Vanderbilt and in our homes is just one more way that we save energy, save money and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Andrea George, director of Vanderbilt’s Sustainability and Environmental Management Office. “Everyone working together to stop energy vampires can make a real difference.”

Slaying these vampires is easy: Unplug whatever you’re not using; use an automatic timer to turn off energy consuming lights or electronics when you’re away, at work or in class; and plug electronics into a power strip for an easier and quicker way to turn them off all at once.

At the office:

  • Activate hibernate modes on your computer and other office electronics such as photocopiers, printers and scanners. Turn them off at night when no one is using them, if allowed by your area. (Standby mode on PCs will still allow the computer to draw energy.)
  • Plug office equipment into a power strip/surge protector. Shut down the equipment by turning off the power strip at night.
  • Turn off lights when you are not using an area of the office during the day, and definitely turn them off before leaving for long periods of time.

At home:

  • Unplug cell phone, tablet and laptop chargers when not using them. Make sure to take your device off the charger when it is done charging, as the charger will continue to draw power even with your fully charged device attached.
  • Unplug hand-held vacuums, power drills and automatic coffee makers, etc., when not in use.
  • Donate or unplug the VCR or DVD player you haven’t used in years, the TV that’s collecting dust in the guest room, and the empty refrigerator in the garage.

October is Energy Awareness Month, so slay some energy vampires to conserve energy and cut costs!

For more information on which appliances draw energy while plugged in, visit the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory website. For more energy saving tips, visit SustainVU’s ThinkOne website.

Contact: Sustainability and Environmental Management Office, (615) 322-9022