Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Your New Terror: The Electric Vampire!

The image of the vampire is iconic. While traits and appearance have varied since the invention of the movie camera, one thing has remained constant: The vampire’s need for blood, which itself is a metaphor for energy and power. Thanks to a bill that passed in California (The aptly titled Vampire Slayer bill) in 2004, we can now add another representation to that legend. The prong.

Just because something is plugged in and fully charged does not automatically mean that it’s done sucking up any more energy. It slowly nibbles away, eating up small amounts of energy that don’t seem that big individually, but have repercussions universally. A computer left on all day may seem like a good idea, but over the course of a year can cost you, on average, $34. And while it may not look like a lot of money, this is only a small fraction of the devices secretly keeping themselves powered. On average, 5 - 8% of a household’s yearly energy cost goes to these phantom bloodsuckers.

There is hope, though. A device called the Energy Detective can gauge how much power is being misused for the cheap price of $190. However, the internet provides other alternatives for a much better price: free. For instance, this chart from Good Magazine gives a clear idea of appliances in your house that are repeat offenders and how much they waste. The easy solution? Disconnect them. Once I showed Jenny, she walked around the office (i.e., her apartment) unplugging everything in sight. This also goes for ipod plugs, cell phones, and other small devices that need to be constantly charged. Instead of plugging them in overnight, do it at the office or during the day while you go about household tasks.

So before you leave the house, check those sockets! Van Helsing would be proud.

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