Vampires in Your Kitchen

January 9, 2013

I’ve got some vampires in my kitchen, and all the garlic in the world is not going to get rid of them. Chances are, you have vampires in your kitchen, too. Don’t be afraid. We’re not in any danger. In fact, once we take care of these vampires, we have the chance to save a little money on our energy bill and help out the environment, too.

I’m talking about energy sucking vampires, not blood sucking ones. An energy vampire is something that sucks electricity right out of the socket, even when it’s not being used. Anything that has stand-by power is considered a vampire.

Take a look around your kitchen. Do you see the time displayed on your coffee maker even if it’s not making coffee? How about your microwave oven? Is the display on when not in use? Do you have an under the cabinet radio that loses its preset radio stations if it gets unplugged? Is your phone, mp3, or e-reader charger plugged in somewhere in the kitchen, even when it’s not charging your device? All of these are in stand-by mode, using energy when not in use.

Fortunately, these vampires are very easy to slay, and the Energy Star website has some information and helpful tips for the kitchen and the rest of the house.

  • Look for ENERGY STAR when shopping. All ENERGY STAR qualified products are among the lowest power consuming in their category in standby mode.
  • Enable the ENERGY STAR power management settings on your computer and monitor, so they go into power save mode when not in use.
  • Use a power strip as a central “turn off” point when you are done using equipment, which completely disconnects the power supply. You can use one for your computer and all peripheral equipment, and another for your home electronics (TV, VCR, DVD, stereo, gaming). Keep in mind though that if you’ve set a timer to wake up a product, such as programming a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) to record a program, then the product must remain plugged in (and able to draw standby power) to function as intended.
  • Unplug your chargers: cell phone chargers, camera chargers, battery chargers or power adapters, etc. These are drawing some amount of energy even when not in use (and even when not connected to an end-use product).

I read that in the United States, about 4% of the energy consumed comes from devices on stand-by. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s the equivalent of about 100 million tons of oil each year! Imagine how much oil and energy we could save just by unplugging our cell phone charges and coffee makers!

Image: Steve Rainwater/Flickr