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Ward off vampires taking a bite out of your wallet

VampannerBest Buy is spreading the word about Vampire Awareness Day this Friday... referring to your home electronics that suck power and drain your wallet.

Many electronics use power when they are in the off position or in standby mode, such as plasma TVs, computers, game consoles, DVD/VCR players, DVRs, and adapters for MP3 players and cellphones. They can waste up to half the energy they consume just being plugged in.

According to Best Buy, if you don't turn off your computer, it can suck nearly as much power as an energy efficient refrigerator -- anywhere from 70 to 250 watts.

A shocker to me was learning that the average microwave consumes more power when it is not in use.

Roughly $4 billion annually across the United States is spent on electricity lost to "vampire power," according to the International Energy Agency. The average home wastes close to $1,000 in electricity costs per year at current rates.

Each watt of vampire power costs about one dollar per year - if you have 25 power vampires consuming an average of seven watts each, they will cost you $175 per year and emit about 900 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

The average American home has approximately 20 to 40 electronics plugged in that abuse vampire power.

The electricity wasted is significant and can cost up to 10 percent of an average household's monthly electric bill.

Want to be a vampire power slayer? Here are a few tips:

  • Plug your chargers into a power strip and when you’re not using those chargers, turn the power strip off.
  • All of your chargers (cellphone, MP3, laptop) continue to draw electricity even when the device is not charging. When the device has been completely charged, unplug the charger from the wall.
  • Completely shut down your computer and printer when not in use. If you are unable to do so, at least make sure the computer goes into a low-power sleep, standby or hibernate mode.
  • Upgrade electronics and appliances to Energy Star qualified products, which draw less power than the average when in "off" mode.

How likely do you think you'll actually use any of these energy-saving tips? On one hand, Americans are a bit more money conscious than usual, so maybe you will unplug your phone charger and turn off your computer to save a few bucks.

But how far will you go to save power? I'm too lazy to worry about keeping the microwave unplugged when I'm not using it. And I don't feel comfortable turning off my DVR... a fear of vampire power is nothing compared to the fear of missing my show!

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