How much do energy vampires cost you?
If you’re into saving money, sooner or later you will learn about energy vampires. The idea here is that when you leave a device plugged in, even if it isn’t on, it is still using electricity. So these energy vampires are all the devices around your house using up all this power and unnecessarily driving up your monthly energy bill, which you wouldn’t have to pay if only you would unplug everything when you are done using it. It is a very prevalent idea, and you may have heard about it from places such as Duke Energy, which claims that energy vampires use up to 20% of your monthly power.
I wanted to figure out exactly how much energy vampires were costing you and let you know ways that you could slash this unnecessary cost, so I purchased a wattage meter and used it on most of the electrical devices around my house. I say most, because I did not test major appliances or devices that must be plugged in at all times to do their jobs such as alarm clocks and DVRs.
What I found was surprising. When you add up all the electrical devices in my house and how much electricity they are using when they are not being used, the answer is almost zero. The amount that energy vampires cost is so insignificant that even a cheap guy like me doesn’t think it is important.
The amount of money energy vampires are costing you is summed up in this chart. Appliances listed with no value used so little electricity that the meter registered no usage after 24 hours. While I am sure these devices are using some electricity, they use so little the cost would not be more than a few pennies per month. Also, my apologies to Mr. Len Penzo for copying the format he used in a recent article about how much electricity appliances use while in use.
Because the cost of electricity per Kilo Watt Hour (kWh) can vary across the country, this chart shows what your cost would be if you pay various amounts per kWh.
|Appliance||Power used while turned off (kWh/ month)||Monthly cost at $.06/kWh||Monthly cost at $.10/kWh||Monthly cost at $.15/kWh||Monthly cost at $.20/kWh|
|Total||18.16||$1.09||$ 1.82||$ 2.72||$ 3.63|
So if I went to all the trouble of unplugging every device I am not using I would save less than $2/ month. That is far less than the 20% Duke Energy claims. In my book, that simply isn’t worth the trouble.
Smart Power Strips
Because unplugging everything is too much of a hassle, there are devices being sold such as so called “smart power strips” which promise to reduce electricity lost to energy vampires, but I think that you can see from this chart that they won’t save you as much as they promise to. This smart strip is one of the more popular on Amazon.com and at the time this article was written costs about $22.
Having a surge protector is a pretty good idea because it protects your expensive electronics from being fried in events like power surges or lightning strikes. Because a typical power strip would cost you around $10, this device only costs you an extra $12.
If we assume that you are paying the highest amount for electricity listed on this chart, and that you have a computer, printer, computer speakers, and a shredder all plugged into the same outlet that would cost you a little more than $1/ month. That means that you would have recovered your cost after using the smart strip for 1 year, and would save yourself about a $1/month after that. While that isn’t a bad return on investment, it won’t save you enough money that you will notice.
So my recommendation is that it isn’t a bad idea to use these power strips on some of your biggest energy wasters… I guess.
Better ways to save money and be more environmentally friendly
While I love it when an article doesn’t turn out the way I think it will, I feel kind of bad that this week’s article won’t help you cut power usage or save you money in any meaningful way. To make it up to you, here are a couple older articles on things you can do that will actually save energy.
Photo by Joriel “Joz” Jimenez. Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links. 10% of advertising revenues from purchases made at affiliate links are donated to the charity noted in the right sidebar of this web page.