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Vampire Energy: A Threat More Real Than Its Namesake

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

With the spooky season fast approaching, it is the ideal time to begin telling stories of ghouls and goblins, the boogeyman and werewolves, and, for first-time apartment renters like myself, tales of vampire energy. Vampire energy, or the electricity that is being drained as appliances and other forms of technology are plugged in yet turned off, is a very real, lurking threat. Spooked yet? It has been found that as much as 20% of your monthly bill may be attributed to these energy suckers. The environmental costs are also frightening, with 37% of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States stemming from electricity production. Similar to its namesake, there are steps we can take to slay these threats.

The first major step is to identify the culprit. Many people assume that leaving a charger plugged in while not attached to a phone or laptop does not drain energy. However, as evidenced by the warmth of the charger, this assumption is a myth. In addition to chargers, many gadgets about which we do not give a second thought are clandestinely using electricity, which heightens both your energy bill and carbon footprint. These items include washing machines, televisions, refrigerators, coffee machines, and microwaves.

an open fridge door in the darkness
nrd | Unsplash

Next, it is crucial to unplug if possible. While it may seem like a hassle to constantly plug in and then unplug items, the extra effort can reduce the hidden energy drain that amounts to 25% of home electricity usage. Once a device is fully charged or you finish using your coffee machine, simply removing the plug can lead to a real reduction in energy consumption. In addition to unplugging, powering off video game consoles or laptops when not in use, instead of leaving them on standby, leads to less frequent recharging and energy usage.

Additionally, utilizing power strips is an easy way to monitor vampire energy more efficiently. Not feeling confident in your ability to consistently unplug all your gadgets? Power strips make it easy by providing a switch to control the usage of energy. Advanced power strips also exist, which power off electronics without any extra actions from you.

white phone charger
Unsplash - Steve Johnson

Finally, it is important to make smart upgrades when shopping for new appliances. The most energy-efficient appliances may not always appear to be the cheapest. However, in the long run, you will be greatly reducing standby power consumption. Countries including the U.S., Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan, and the European Union offer Energy Star-certified appliances, which comply with minimal energy consumption standards and lower energy cost and use.

Through these reasonable steps, you can easily drive a stake through this energy draining problem and spend this season being more spooked by scary stories than your utilities bill.