These fangs may drain your wallet

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Photo illustration by Laura King-Homan

How many TVs are in your home? How about cable boxes? Cell phone chargers? Video game consoles?

If your home is like most American households, you’ve probably counted more than five of these devices by now. In fact, the average American household owns 25 consumer electronic devices.

Did you know these electronic devices are using energy even when not in use? Known as vampire energy, ghosting, or standby power, energy usage from devices like these can add 10 percent or more to your monthly electric bill.

But there are steps you can take and best practices to implement to combat vampire energy.

DID YOU KNOW?

Standby power costs Americans $19 billion each year, or about $164 per year for the average household, according to a study performed by the National Resources Defense Council.

CELL PHONE CHARGERS

These devices are always drawing power, even when they aren’t charging. The average charger consumes .26 watts of electricity when plugged in and not in use, and 2.24 watts even when a fully charged device is connected to it.

CABLE BOXES

Even when off, cable boxes consume an average of 17.83 watts. Cable boxes with a DVR component are worse, using an average of 44.28 watts when not recording, with the TV turned off. But even when turned off, DVR cable boxes draw 43.46 watts. The best solution? Unplug them completely when not in use.

STEPS TO TAKE
  • Unplug devices you don’t use. Consider unplugging them completely until you need them next time.
  • Use power strips to turn power on and off for a group of devices with one switch when you aren’t home.
  • Sleep mode is better than idle time for computers and video game consoles. A desktop computer uses an average of 73.97 watts when on and idle versus 21.13 watts when “asleep” and 2.84 watts when turned off.
  • Unplug chargers when they aren’t being used.
TOOLS YOU CAN USE

OPPD has Watt Detector kits available at all Omaha metro area libraries. These kits measure energy usage of device throughout your home. Visit oppd.com to learn more about your energy usage.

Laura King-Homan

About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is editor of The Wire and a communications specialist at the Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, most of that time spent at the Omaha World-Herald.

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