Monday, November 03, 2008

How to Save Money on Energy Bills: Stop the Vampires

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.

Here's how to buy my new book:

@ Barnes & Noble
@ Borders


Heather said...

Thank you for the tips! I've been busy researching ways to save...


Anonymous said...

I am so bad about turning off my computer. Thanks for the reminder.

batticdoor said...

How To Reduce Your Energy Bills / Energy Conservation Begins at Home

Imagine leaving a window open all winter long -- the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan or AC Return, a fireplace or a clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day.

These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in -- costing you higher heating bills.

Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts.

But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home -- the folding attic stair, the whole house fan or AC return, the fireplace, and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

Attic Stairs

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.

Whole House Fans and AC Returns

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired.


A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.

Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts

An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted air infiltration, and keep out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape.

If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan, an AC return, a fireplace, and/or a clothes dryer, you can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.

Mark D. Tyrol is a Professional Engineer specializing in cause and origin of construction defects. He developed several residential energy conservation products including an attic stair cover, an attic access door, and is the U.S. distributor of the fireplace draftstopper. To learn more visit

Jamie said...

I have been a subscriber to your blog for several months now, and just recently read a review of your book that Trent did over at The Simple Dollar. It made me more interested in reading your book. Ordinarily I would have just popped over to Amazon to buy it, but I'm really trying hard to use my library as a resource instead of spending money. Do you know when your book will be available in the library? BTW, I really enjoy your stuff. :)