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Power And Money Drains

May 18, 2021 | Personal Finance

Just like a traditional bloodsucker, you have to invite these energy vampires into your home, and once they’re in, they’re going to do their best to drain your power and your money.

It’s easy to think that once you turn an appliance or piece of electronic equipment off that it stops using power, but unfortunately, that’s not true. They continue to passively use your energy, earning them the name “energy-vampires.” Although many devices have “sleep” or “standby power” settings, you’re still leaking energy. It’s estimated as much as 10-20% of an average household’s electric bill is because of these suckers. (1)

There are several energy vampires at work, probably most of them in your home, so let’s take a look at the top offenders (but there are still plenty more).

Top Offenders

It’s no surprise that your furnace and air conditioner are going to be the top drain on your energy, about 47%, but you can still exert a little control over how much they consume. If you’re going to be out of the house all day, turn the furnace down (somewhere in the low 60s would be a good number). Once you get home and bump up the thermostat, your house should warm up quickly.

And you can push the a/c’s setting into the 70s while you’re out. Otherwise, you’re just paying to keep an empty house cold for no one.

But if you can’t stand the thought of waiting for a stuffy house to cool down, you can find digital timers for thermostats — you can set the a/c to kick on a half-hour or so before you return home — for $35 or so. It’ll save you some money in the long run.

Your water heater is the next biggest mouth you’re feeding, tipping in at about 14% of your energy use. Like the furnace and a/c, you can adjust the temperature on your water heater by a couple of degrees. Your bathwater is still going to be plenty hot, just not as hot, but you’ll save a few dollars. Otherwise, this accounts for about 14% of your wasted energy.

Also, your washer/dryer are doing their best to empty your bank account at 13% of your power drain. You can save a little money here by washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot, and you can experiment until you find the lowest setting your dryer can still effectively dry your clothes.

Wasted Energy

Lighting. Use low-wattage bulbs where you can, energy-saving bulbs when possible, and turn the lights off when you leave that room.

Chargers. We said this one would shock you. Do you leave your charger plugged into a socket next to the couch? It’s so convenient, but it’s also pulling juice, even when it isn’t actually charging anything. Just unplug it.

This one’s a three-fer, but probably not a surprise: your television, satellite or cable box/DVR, and blu-ray player all keep feasting away on your electricity, even when they’re all shut off. This is because they’re on standby, just waiting for the signal that activates them, and they need the power to keep their LED displays running. (2) It’s not awful, but it still accounts for about 3% of your energy loss.

Game consoles. If you’ve ever shut down your console before completely exiting your last session or sidequest, you’re losing energy because the system allows you to pick up where you left off without losing all those points. (3)

Computer and printer. Let’s face it, we probably all just leave the computer running all day long, whether we’re actually sitting at the screen, because it goes into sleeper mode and it’s easier to wake it up than to go through the whole shutdown/log back in process. But it keeps running, and running up your electric bill. If the monitor has a separate power supply, that’s another drain.

And do you turn your printer completely off, or just put it in standby mode? And it’s going to pull even more energy if it’s a WiFi wireless printer because it needs to maintain that signal connection. (4)

Your refrigerator/freezer. Well, unless you like melted ice cream and rancid lunchmeat, there’s not much you can do about this one, except find an interior setting for the refrigerator and freezer that still keeps food preserved. But this may be the best 4% you’re paying for your energy costs.

Microwave, stove, coffee maker, clock radio. They all have clocks, so they’re all going to be energy vampires.

The Garlic and Crucifix to Energy Vampires

Other than unplugging everything that’s quietly draining your energy — which is highly impractical — there are still a few preventative steps you can take to save money.

You can slowly switch over to Energy Star appliances. If you don’t know, Energy Star, it’s the EPA-certified device that meet energy-efficiency requirements. Older appliances are going to be less energy-efficient, so that might be a good place to start.

Surge protectors. IF you plug several of the big energy offenders into the same strip, you can simply turn them all off with one simple flick of the switch. This will at least make certain that your equipment’s vampirism is about on a par with unplugged devices.

And you might consider a TV Standby Killer. It plugs into any wall socket, and your TV plugs into that. When you turn your TV off using the remote, the infrared sensor in the standby killer shuts your TV off, so it isn’t in the standby mode.(5)

Finally, your electric company may offer a free, energy-saving audit of your home, telling you where the big drains are coming from and how to plug them.

1. “Vampire Power: The Complete Guide to Getting Rid of Vampire Energy.” Payless Power, 24 Apr. 2020,
2. Komando Staff, “Slash Your Energy Bill – 6 Common Power Drains Costing You Money.”, 23 Apr. 2021,
3. Komando Staff, “Slash Your Energy Bill – 6 Common Power Drains Costing You Money.”, 23 Apr. 2021,
4. Keshen, Michael. “15 Home Appliances That Use Energy When Turned Off.” HomeStars Blog, 11 Apr. 2018,
5. Komando Staff, “Slash Your Energy Bill – 6 Common Power Drains Costing You Money.”, 23 Apr. 2021,

The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional financial advice. You should consult a credit counseling professional concerning the information provided and what should work best in your financial situation. And any action on your part in response to the information provided is at your discretion.

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