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Slay Vampires for Halloween … and help defeat the Climate Zombie Invasion

October 31st, 2010 · No Comments

Vampires are among us. When you aren’t looking (or, when you are looking but not seeing), when you are sleeping, when you aren’t paying attention, Vampires are sucking up vital juices, threatening our very existence.

For Halloween, kill some Vampires and contribute to defeating the invasion of Climate Zombies!

Standby / Vampire Power refers to the electric power consumed by electronic appliances in a standby mode. A very common “electricity vampire” is a power adaptor built on a plug with no power switch. However, while this consumption of power is used to provide functions for appliances such as remote controls and digital clocks to the user, most of the power consumed is considered wasted.

Vampire power … that little red light showing your TV as always ready for the remote control, even if you only watch it an hour a month. The cell phone or wireless phone charger burning up power even after the phone is fully charged (or even without the phone). The ‘sleeping’ computer. The xerox machine left on through the four day weekend. The modem and wireless system. The nearly ubiquituos electronics of our lives.

From the Treehugger TV Vampire Video

  • 17-25 % of household electricity is due to vampire power
  • Estimated cost to US homes and businesses: $1 – $3.5 billion / year

Grinning Planet on Vampire Electricity

The amount of standby power wasted varies among electronic equipment, but overall, the cost to consumers and businesses for all the electricity lost to vampire power in the US is estimated to be $4 billion annually. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates the global energy consumption due to standby power at between 200-400 terawatts [hours] per year.

Very roughly, consider every kilowatt hour as generating one pound of CO2 (roughly, global, that seems to work when one considers coal, natural gas, and oil portions of global electricity generation). Thus, Vampire power could account for 400 billion pounds of CO2 emissions, a cause of pollution that simply didn’t exist just a few decades ago. And, well, a cause of emissions that we each can do something about.

Taking Action

We can act to reduce vampire power’s impact on our pocketbooks and the planet.

1. Unplug unnecessary / unused systems. Going on vacation? Does everything need to stay plugged in? (And, well, as long as we are on that unAmerican activity of vacation, do you turn down your thermostat and your water heater while away?) That TV in the guest room really need to be sitting waiting for that ever so occasional visitor?

2. Unplug when not in use. Get in the habit of unplugging/turning off entirely systems when not in use/the power charging is unrequired. Back to Treehugger for a links as part of the hat tip for this video. Such as one path for dealing with Vampire power is to Consider systems to shut off multiple vampire systems with one switch, such as Smart Strips.

3. Reduce. Do you really need that 10th wireless cell phone? Second TV? The VCR that has been unused for three years?

4. Purchase wisely: Not all electronics are created equal. Look to energy efficiency (including standby power demands) to reduce Vampire’s impact as you upgrade/replace/add electronics. (And, if you wish to go high end, Greenswitch claims their household electronics control system cuts vampire power drains significantly.)

There is much that you can do, yourself. One useful site for figuring out energy efficiency in the home is Michael BlueJay Electricty. (Not perfect, but a good place.)

Personal power

Vampire Power is something that can be driven down through better regulatory activity, by standard setting to drive down the power requirements.

Let us go back to some of our common electronics. According to Energy Star (as cited in What one person can do), “The table below details the wasted electricity associated with electronics of standard design as compared to units that qualify for the government’s EnergyStar efficiency rating.”

Type of equipment Amount of vampire power wasted
Cordless phone 66%
Televisions 25%
VCRs 30%
DVD players Up to 75%
Home audio equipment Up to 90%

Why isn’t every device pushed to “energy star” levels to drive out these wasted percents? Thus, there is a level to this problem that is beyond our personal action.

But, again, we can act, immediately, to slay Vampires. My home/life is far (FAR) from perfect, far from a true environmental haven, yet …

  • All major electronics are on power strips. The TV/stereo spend easily 80+% of the time with the power strip off — no vampire power possible there.
  • No charger devices are left plugged in if there is not something actively being charged. (And, well, for portable computers, when fully charged, unplugging time to reduce transformer wastage.)
  • Major standby systems are turned off off season.
  • Most systems are unplugged when it comes to extended absences from the home … the (by code) wire fire alarms, refrigerator, and answering machine are about the only things left on. (And, the last might use less power if sent to a centralized system … hmmm …)
  • Hot water heater turned (WAY) down when on vacation. [Better solution: solar hot water with on-demand systems: the on-demand basically eliminates the vampire costs of hot water storage. In negotiations for the solar right now; radiant heat system doesn’t play well with on-demand systems.]
  • All of the above, cost to me: negative, they save money. [Note: many of these practices very easily transfer into office life. Do you really need the printer on 24/7, awaiting those few minutes a day of printing. My ‘printer’ is on probably less than an hour per week. Graced with windows, my office lights are on perhaps less than 10 hours/week. And, within the office, I ‘offset’ my polluting life with wandering the halls before weekends turning off kilowatts worth of systems. And, we try to help others understand ‘vampire power’, such as highlighting the wastefulness of all-night outdoor lighting.]

    We have, when replacing things, consistently sought out high energy efficiency … that can cost a bit, up front, even while saving over the long run.

    All those wasted 2 watt, 5 watt, 15 watts for standby power, for the power transformer can add up. To billions of pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. And, to dollars that you might prefer to keep in your pocket rather than send to the electric company.

    In any event …

    A holiday is ahead of us …

    Celebrate in style …

    Celebrate appropriately …

    Celebrate Halloween

    Slay Some Vampires!

    And, well, contribute to defeating the invasion of Climate Zombies and GOTV … Treat or Vote style!

    We can all
    help make
    Energy Smart.

    Ask yourself:

    Are you doing
    your part to
    ENERGIZE AMERICA to a prosperous, climate-friendly future??


  • And, when it comes to Halloween, consider Greening yours … check out Grist’s “Sustaina-Boo!”. As a ‘sigh’ against that, too many homes are now sporting lighting displays like Christmas for Halloween … rather than greening Halloween, too many are making it even more glow in the dark, starting weeks ahead of time.
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    Tags: electricity · Energy · energy efficiency