Are Vampire Devices Sucking Your Bank Account Dry?

You probably already know that your heating and air conditioning system is the single biggest user of energy in your home, but did you know that energy-sucking “vampire devices” may be sucking hundreds of dollars worth of electricity from your home every year through a phenomenon known as phantom power draw.

Phantom power draw is the electricity that’s used by electronics even when they’re turned off.

The Impact of Phantom Power Draw

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory defines phantom power as “electricity used by appliances and equipment while they are switched off or not performing their primary function. That power is consumed by power supplies (the black cubes—sometimes called “vampires”—converting AC into DC), the circuits and sensors needed to receive a remote signal, soft keypads and displays including miscellaneous LED status lights. Standby power use is also caused by circuits that continue to be energized even when the device is “off.

The typical American home has 40 devices that continuously draw power.  Although the amount used by individual devices is relatively small, the combined effect can be significant. refers to this as “standby power” and estimates that the average American home consumes $100 per year to power electronic devices while they are off or in standby mode.

More than 100 billion kilowatt hours of phantom power are consumed in the U.S. each year, at a cost of more than $10 billion, and is responsible for about 1 percent of global CO2 emissions.

Common Household Vampire Devices

Here’s a list of some common energy vampires:

  • Plasma TV
  • LED TV
  • Gaming console
  • LCD TV
  • Digital cable box
  • Satellite box
  • Inkjet fax machine
  • Notebook computer
  • Desktop computer
  • DVD / VCR
  • Heating furnace
  • Cordless phone
  • Surge protector
  • Cell phone charger

How to Prevent Phantom Energy Draw

Fortunately, there are things you can do to drive a stake into the hearts of your vampire electronics. They include:

  • Replacing your old, inefficient devices with EnergyStar® qualified products
  • Using the power management settings on computers and monitors to minimize power usage when they’re not in use
  • Unplugging cell phone, camera and battery chargers when not in use
  • Connecting electronic devices to a “smart” power strip to provide a central “turn off” point
Did we miss anything?If you have additional ideas on how to reduce phantom power usage, please post them in the comments below.

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