Reducing the amount of energy wasted by "passive" devices in the can save up to 10 percent on overall power usage.
We're under increasing pressure to stay connected at all times. As a result, the ability to start faster and stay online is becoming a feature in many of today's electronics. Some electronics still consume power even when they're turned off. Others consume energy while providing secondary functionality unrelated to their primary responsibilities. Such appliances and electronics are called energy vampires or power vampires, and they're becoming more and more common.
What Is an Energy Vampire?
Simply stated, an energy vampire is any electronic that still consumes power even when it has been turned off. The power used is called "standby power" or "phantom load". The feature allows modern appliances to accomplish a bunch of neat tricks. It allows a remote to turn on your TV. It helps your cable box update your TV guide. It helps your electronics keep the time.
Some of the most common energy vampires are computer equipment, television sets, stereo and speaker systems, cable or satellite boxes, and pretty much anything with a clock in it.
Calculating the Cost of Standby Features
Estimates from Energy.gov suggest that standby power accounts for anywhere from 10 to 13 percent of the total amount of power used in the US and Europe. In real dollars, the average family in the United States could be paying as much as $100 a year to cover the costs of the phantom load.
A recent study by the NRDC suggested that power vampires cost the United States as much as $19 billion a year. Over the given lifetime of a microwave, for example, it may consume more power when not in use than it does while working.