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What are Vampire Appliances?

Updated on August 30, 2012

They're here. They've come to your town, your neighborhood, your home. Lurking unseen as you go about the business of your day. Even if you do realize they are there, you feel compelled to ignore their negatives and focus only on the allure and advantages you perceive that draws you to them. What is this sinister invader? Vampire appliances.


What are vampire appliances?

Vampire appliances are electronics and electrical appliances that continue to draw standby power even when they are switched off. Anything that uses a remote control, has an external power supply, charges batteries or has a continuous display uses standby power. Think about it. You turn off your television and dvr but it still remembers to turn itself on to record your favorite television shows. Your computer screen is dark but when you jiggle your mouse it immediately comes to life; ready and waiting for you to explore the information highway. Your cordless phone is informing you of the time and date, readily awaiting your next call.

These are all conveniences that we all appreciate but the problem is that it is costing us money. Not just a little money--a lot. Here is a list of some of the biggest energy users in your home:

  1. HDTV DVR. These things are great. The picture is crystal clear. A baseball, tennis ball or golf ball is much easier to track making your viewing experience much more enjoyable. If you need to step away from your TV while your favorite show is on--no problem. These devices will record them for you to watch when you have time. The problem is that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, these devices consume an average of 17.83 watts of power when they are turned off. If you left this device plugged in but turned off for an entire year that would still add about $43 to your bill. If you don't have DVR capabilities, it will still cost you $18/year to have this device off and plugged into your home.
  2. Computers. If you're like me, you use the sleep mode on your desktop computer, thinking it is a power saving measure. In sleep mode, your computer uses 21.83 watts of power. If it is plugged in but off, it uses 2.84 watts. Do you have a laptop computer? These gadgets consume 8.9 watts of power when they are off.
  3. Inkjet printer/fax. Let's be honest here. In most homes, this device is used sparingly. When turned off, it still uses 5.31 watts.
  4. Cordless power tools. Do you keep that drill plugged in and ready for the next time you need to bore a hole into something? These tools use 8.3 watts of power while plugged into your garage wall.
  5. Audio mini systems. They play CD's, cassettes, radios and even your iPods. But when off, they consume a staggering 8.32 watts of power.
  6. Game consoles. The kids pause their game and turn off the television, leaving the console in ready mode. That little habit costs your family 23.34 watts of power. If they actually turn the system off, it still costs 1.01 watts.

The list goes on and on. Coffee makers, phone chargers (even when not charging), cable modems, stereo speakers, thermostats, sprinkler systems--they all consume power when plugged in and turned off. Vampire appliances account for roughly 5-10% of an average homeowners yearly power bill. When you take a look at your power bill, you can see that really adds up.

Want more information?

When researching the U.S. Department of Energy's website, I found this handy table listing common household items and the energy they consume.

Standby Power Summary Table

How to save money on your power bill.

The simplest thing to do is unplug your appliances and gadgets when they are not in use. Well, simple except for the fact that that would be rather inconvenient. A solution could be that you put these appliances on a power strip that you can toggle off thus cutting off the energy flow. Using a light switch that turns the power on and off is equally effective. sells energy saving power strips that automatically power off when it senses that the plugged-in devices are not in use. That is really the best option. Additionally, you can replace your devices with Energy Star rated ones that are designed to consume less power.

┬ęDenise Mai, August 30, 2012. All rights reserved.

Follow me on Twitter! @denise_mai


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    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev 5 years ago from Wales

      Brilliant advice - the blinking Wii is on all the time - it's always doing stuff by itself. Unplugging it right now!

    • KarenCreftor profile image

      Karen Creftor 5 years ago from Kent, UK

      I like this! Simple, straight forward facts and easy remedy :) Great hub Denise.

      I've never heard the term 'Vampire Appliances' before but love it! Totally describes the problem hehe.

      On the whole I'm pretty good at energy saving, but there's always room for improvement~ I'm off to check the flat :P

      Voted up, shared, pinned etc.

      ~Kaz x

    • denisemai profile image

      Denise Mai 5 years ago from Idaho

      Don't kick yourself, Letitialicious. Just make sure and buy some energy saving power strips and you should be able to save on energy costs. Rewiring your whole home--big job!

    • Letitialicious profile image

      Letitialicious 5 years ago from Paris via San Diego

      Darn. I just had my entire home rewired. The electrician is installing the new board tomorrow after three weeks of work. Why didn't I see this before? I could have had switches put everywhere. Now I could just kick myself!

    • denisemai profile image

      Denise Mai 5 years ago from Idaho

      Hey all! Yes, it's crazy. You think your saving money by turning off the lights in unoccupied rooms when little used items like power tools and gaming systems are sucking up wattage. I need to get unplugging, too. So pleased you found the information useful Thundermama, YogaKat, and Nell!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      This is very useful for me, and in fact I was wondering about a similar thing the other day. We use an electricity key, we have to keep topping it up, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out where the money was going, or should I say leaking, wonderful facts, and so useful, thanks nell

    • YogaKat profile image

      YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      Wow . . . I got lots of vampires sucking up the electricity at my house. I am gonna start unplugging NOW. Thanks for posting this timely and green information.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 5 years ago from Canada

      Power tools! I forgot about those. All these things really do add up. Off to the work bench to start unplugging things.

    • denisemai profile image

      Denise Mai 5 years ago from Idaho

      Mama Kim--That's awesome that you are so conscientious about your energy use. That's a great point about the fire risk, too. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      We always try to keep everything unplugged when not in use. For the multiple electronic areas we use a surge protector like you suggested and unplug or flip the switch. It also reduces the fire risk in the home. voted up and shared... love your term vampire appliances ^_^

    • denisemai profile image

      Denise Mai 5 years ago from Idaho

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      mts1098 5 years ago

      A very intriguing title and good read...cheers

    • denisemai profile image

      Denise Mai 5 years ago from Idaho

      Me, neither, Wilderness, until I learned about it. The same goes for your phone charger --even when it's not connected to a phone, and many other household items. It seems a shame to pay for energy you don't really need to use so those energy saving power strips are really helpful.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Well, you surprise me. I had no idea that a laptop would draw power when plugged in but turned off.

      I'm quite aware that these vampire appliances cost considerably over the year, and use switchable plug strips for those that don't get used often, as well as unplugging larger ones when we'll be gone for several days.