We're always looking for ways to save, especially in tough economic times. And one of the easiest ways may start with our electronics and other products that use electricity.
Vampire power is the name given to the electricity used by products that stay on standby instead of really being turned off. Things like anything that has a clock, timer function, can be turned "on" by remote control or by pressing a button. The cost of standby power used by one device can seem pretty small, but the costs add up when you take into account how much we have plugged in.
The Department of Energy calculates $4 billion a year is wasted in the U.S. alone from vampire power. According to the Conscious Consumer, in a year, a laptop computer on standby consumes roughly $8.81, with the laptop charger alone, not connected to the laptop $4.38. Even a CD player can consume about $5 of electricity in standby.
To stop this waste you could use the familiar power strip. To turn everything off, you just flip the switch. But these things are usually on the floor behind stuff so it's not that easy. Back in the late 1970s RadioShack sold an automated surge protector that would virtually unplug products connected to it when you turned off a main product. To help you today these types of surge protectors are back. For example, if you connected your TV instead of the lamp it could turn off your DVD player, sound system, lamp or whatever. For a computer, turning off the computer then turns off the monitor, printer and other devices.
A different model has a remote control to turn off the things plugged into it instead of being automatic. It sounds simple, but there is a catch. Both products have at least one outlet labeled unswitched or always on. That's because some things need to stay in standby or they can't perform their function.
A VCR or digital video recorder needs to stay connected or they can't record the show you want. Some TVs when disconnected lose all their programming. My computer printer doesn't like just having the power disconnected, it needs to go through a shut down sequence. A shame considering my multifunction printer consumes about $5.21 in standby and the digital cable box with a DVR potentially $43 a year. There are ways to save if you stop and think about them.