Slaying Energy Vampires

By Kevin Pink, Marketing & Development Specialist

It’s that time of the year…the moon rises high in the sky, candles flicker inside carved Jack O’Lanterns- Halloween (or as we like to call it, HalloGreen) is in the air. With it come ghosts and monsters, including vampires. There is one insidious type of vampire that doesn’t sleep in a coffin and can strike during the brightest daylight. They’re probably preying on you right now, without you even knowing- the mysterious energy vampires. Never fear! This article will provide you with the knowledge and tools to vanquish energy vampires in your home. You won’t even need stakes or garlic!

Know Your Enemy 

“Energy vampires” are electronic devices that continue to draw power even though they are “off.” Any device with a “standby” or “instant on” setting is an energy vampire. Devices with remote controls, clocks, speakers, and answering machines are just some of the culprits. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory tested an exhaustive list of devices to learn much power they draw standby mode.

Individual energy vampires may not be using much electricity on their own. However, the Department of Energy estimates that average American household owns 25 consumer electronic devices. Those wasted watts add up, and your wallet suffers in the end. According to the Department of Energy, energy vampires can add up to nearly 10% of a household’s monthly electric bill. You could be wasting hundreds of dollars’ worth of electricity every year!

Common energy vampires include:

  • TVs
    Energy Vampires

  • cable boxes/DVRs
  • computers
  • cell phone chargers
  • speakers
  • game consoles
  • radios
  • coffee makers

Fighting Back

Taking on energy vampires sounds like a spooky proposition, but there are some easy and common-sense ways to ward off the electricity-suckers.

Unplug any device you do not use. Many people have a VCR that they have not used in years. Is yours still drawing power? Do you have a radio that hasn’t been used since digital music streaming was invented? Walk around your home and consider how often you use the power-drawing items in your every-day life- you’ll be surprised how many things you can do without.

When in doubt, turn it off. Instead of letting your computer sit idle while you do the laundry or take a shower, power down and restart it when you come back. If you have to leave a device on and unattended, make use of any power-saver modes it may have (most computers now have power-save or “eco” modes).

Use power strips, especially advanced ones. A power strip is plugged into the wall, and functions as a bank of outlets all controlled by a master switch. Plug devices you use only occasionally into a power strip. As a result, you’ll never have to fumble to Power strips are better than a stake against energy vampires.unplug cords in hard-to-reach places ever again. Just flip the switch and all devices stop drawing power. Advanced power strips make this even easier, cutting power to devices based on criteria like timers, motion sensors, or turning off a “master” device. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has a great chart that compares some different varieties of smart power strips.

Upgrade intelligently. When you buy a new appliance or electronic device, consider purchasing one that is Energy Star-qualified. They are designed to use less energy in all of their functions, including standby power. They may be more costly up-front when compared to similar products, but you will save quite a bit of energy over the life of the appliance.

Now that you know what you’re up against and how to stop them, you have the power to defeat the energy vampires. Use it to go green in your life and save green in your wallet! Happy HalloGreen!


  • Tony

    I was hoping this article would be more specific as far as how much power the different devices draw. I know it will vary by brands and models, but some ballpark figures would be useful.

    November 9, 2015
  • Kevin Pink

    Hi Tony,

    Thanks for your feedback! I think you should be able to find what you’re looking for in this chart from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

    They didn’t break it down by brands or models, but they did test several brands and/or models of each device and provide the averages, as well as the minimum and maximum standby power levels. I hope that’s helpful!

    Kevin Pink
    Customer Service & Marketing Assistant
    Center for EcoTechnology

    November 10, 2015

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