The average household in the U.S. wastes about $1,000 each year in electricity, according to the International Energy Agency. Vampire power — the standby energy consumed by household gadgets and appliances — is the culprit.
We don't need an exhaustive scavenger hunt to find the sources of energy theft in our home. Everyday appliances such as computers, game consoles, plasma televisions and DVD/VCR players burn up energy — about 40 percent of our total bill — even when not used. That's because most gadgets have small "standby" lights (typically green, yellow or red) that continue to burn power even when we hit the "off" switch. This 24-hour consumption of power is a drain on our household budgets.
To highlight the hidden charges of vampire power, Best Buy recently launched a campaign to promote energy savings. The company offers the following money-saving tips for home electronics:
• Tap into a power strip. Attach appliances and battery chargers to a power strip. When appliances are not used, turn off the power strip and cut the flow of energy into the small standby lights.
• Remove the plug. Eliminate power drains by unplugging gadgets that are not in use. It's a waste, for instance, to leave a cellphone charger plugged into an outlet.
• Shut down the computer. In the so-called "sleep mode," your computer is costing an additional $70 annually, according to Best Buy. Even screen savers can be a power drain. To save money, completely shut down computers, laptops and printers when not in use.
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