Energy vampires like to suck energy from the electronic devices around your Conroe or Montgomery County home, even when you think they’re powered off. Did you know that many of your electronic appliances and gadgets don’t really have an off button? Most will have a button or switch labeled “off” or “power” and when you’re finished using them, you click it, press it or flip it.

Unfortunately, in many cases, you’re not really turning the device off — and energy is being wasted, adding to your utility bill. Think about all those red or blue LEDs and indicator lights on the front of most electronics, kitchen appliances and maybe even your washer and dryer.

Sometimes the lights are there to help you find the “on” button easily, sometimes they tell you the time — on your microwave oven or DVD player, for instance. Some of the lights or indicators are there just as decoration, to make the unit look modern or even futuristic. If you walk through your living room or kitchen at night, you’ll probably notice many of the devices you’ve turned “off” are still winking at you with some sort of light or continuing to use a small amount of power silently.

Why won’t these devices turn off?
Basically most of these items are in “ready” or “standby” mode and not really powered off. To cut the power, you’d have to unplug them. That “off” button really doesn't mean what it says much of the time. Your devices are all in “ready-to-go” mode or available to receive signals all the time.

Some of the biggest offenders and silent energy-wasters are the adapters and chargers for your cell phone, digital camera, portable music player and power tools. If they are plugged in, even if there’s no device connected to them at a given moment, they’re sucking power.

How much energy loss is involved?
Energy that’s wasted in this way is called phantom energy loss or standby loss. The energy vampires are slurping up a small extra percentage of your home's electricity use little by little. But those little bits add up when you consider this is going on all all year long — and all across the country.

Energy vampires use up to 100 billion kilowatt hours of excess electrical power annually and add billions of kilowatt-hours of electricity to our utility bills each year as well, according to Energy Star. The small amounts of energy also add a significant amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year, contributing to global warming.

What can you do to avoid energy vampires?
You can drive a stake into the heart of the local energy vampires if you:

  • Unplug appliances and devices when they aren’t in use. Plug multiple items into a surge protector/suppressor so you can kill the power with a single switch. Surge suppressors still provide protection from power surges. 
  • Avoid extra features on electronic items you’re buying, that you won’t really use. Some features can be energy wasters. 
  • Before you purchase an electronic device, check on the label for standby power use information. Energy Star labels can direct you to items that use less energy in both regular and standby modes. 
  • Enable any power management settings on your computer, monitor and other devices, so they shift into power-saving mode (or go to “sleep”) when not being used.

Don’t cut the important standbys
If standby power is serving a useful purpose like running a remote control or providing a necessary timer, you may rightly choose to leave them plugged in. Your time is worth something too. Remember that if you’ve set a timer to “wake up” a device, like a DVR to record a program, the product must not be unplugged. Some devices like computer servers must not be unplugged because they could cause a network breakdown or data loss. But for those standby features that are completely unnecessary, why not unplug?

We invite you to bring any questions you may have about energy conservation, energy vampires or home comfort issues to the experts at Conroe Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration. Got a problem with your air conditioning system, humidity control, ventilation, or heating? We’re happy to advise you and offer complete home cooling and heating services including HVAC system design, installation, repairs and maintenance.