10/31/13 :

Ward-Off Vampires this Halloween with These Energy-Saving Tips

Vampire Energy

By now, most of us now associate vampires with “Twihard” tweens obsessed with a certain book and movie series. You might have hoped the craze would pass and you’d never have to hear about those blood-sucking creatures again.

But like it or not, vampires are a part of all of our lives, and it doesn’t come and go with pop-culture fads or Halloween season. Also referred to as “phantom load,” “standby power” or “idle current,” vampire energy is the electricity that outlets and electronics endlessly “suck” from our plugs, even if the device is fully charged, off , or in sleep mode. Microwaves, coffee makers, laptops, printers, TVs, cable boxes, (literally anything you can plug into an outlet) and more are haunted by vampire energy.

Basically anytime you plug something into an outlet, it’s using energy and taking a bite out of your wallet. The good news, though, is that just like in the classic tales you’ve heard, there’s easy ways you can ward-off these money-sucking vampires (and you won’t have to stink up your room with garlic).

Power Strips

Power strips are inexpensive, easy to find, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit your needs. They are the most direct way to cut off energy vampires because with the flip of a switch you can completely block-off multiple devices simultaneously from wasting away any more of your energy. This Belkin Conserve Switch Surge Protector ($39) is just one option.

But if you don’t like having to remember to switch that strip off, there are more sophisticated apotropaics available at your vampire-slaying disposal?

Smart Power Strips

Timer-Equipped:

These smart strips are controlled by programmable timers, and you have the ability to schedule the plugged-in devices to automatically turn off and on. The Belkin WeMo single outlet switch ($49.99) allows you to put an entire room on a schedule and control it from your smart device.

Occupancy Sensing:

Like it knows when a vampire is in the room, outlets with occupancy sensing are controlled by a motion detector that turn on when you come into the room and turn off when you leave. The WeMo single outlet switch mention previously can be equipped with a motion sensor for an additional $50, and the WattStopper Isole IDP 3040 has eight outlets and comes with a sensor you can place under your desk. It powers up when it senses movement in a room but you can set a period of time for the device to power down again once the room is vacant.  

Current Sensing:

These smart strips are able to detect when a device has entered sleep-mode or is turned off, turning off any other outlets connected to accessories. The process is reversed when the main device is turned back on. This function makes it easier to cut off power from peripherals when a computer or TV is turned off. A few examples include the Bits Limited’s Smart Strips ($30-$50, depending upon features), which can monitor electricity use and automatically cut power to devices in standby mode, and the UFO Power Center ($130), which has four sockets to which you can assign a “role” so the device knows to shut down power when connected devices are not in use. What’s more, the EnergyUFO app tells you the real-time energy cost of the devices plugged in and allows you to turn them off from your phone. 

These are just a few examples of how to slay those energy vampires. But remember that unexpected devices like DVRs and digital picture frames are also guilty of sucking your money away. So keep an eye on those outlets and plugs—because most likely there’s already a vampire loose in your house sucking away your money.