Vampire Hunting

We both know that it’s a lot easier to be green if you to fit energy efficient light bulbs and turn off lights when you leave the room.  Essential stuff, but not very exciting, is it? So why not spice up your green lifestyle with a little vampire hunting?

Vampires – energy vampires that is – are appliances that use electricity even when you think you’ve turned them off.

You would be horrified by how much electricity your home is using when nothing is switched on – not even on standby.

If yours is an ‘average’ home, with TV, video and DVD recorder, sound system, answerphone, washing machine, microwave and computer, you can clock up at least 140 watts an hour in these phantom loads. With more appliances the figure goes higher still. Most people know a TV uses power even on standby, but did you know it can use 15 watts an hour even when switched off?

140 watts doesn’t sound like much but it means you are actually using 1,226 kilowatt hours a year. At my Good Energy tariff of 13.31p per kWh, that’s over £160 a year for nothing at all. Now – jokes aside – you wouldn’t pay a plumber or solicitor money for doing absolutely nothing would you? So why pay your energy company money for nothing?

What can you do?

First – hunt down the energy vampires in your own home. You can get an energy monitor and check for yourself how much each of your appliances wastes. If you can’t be bothered with that, just check which appliances have internal clocks, continuous digital display, rechargeable batteries, or have lights left on when the power goes down – tell-tale signs of vampires.

Work out which appliances can be switched off and get the household into the habit of turning them off at the plug, not the power switch. Learn to live without the digital clocks on ovens, washing machines and microwaves and you have the chance to save even more. You can also install an energy saving adaptor like Intelli-Plug to your computer and home entertainment equipment to ensure devices not in use are disconnected from the mains.

If we all did this, we could close a power station or two. And – of course – save our hard earned cash for something a bit nicer than nothing at all.

blog by Jane Gray

first printed as the Green Scene Column in the Annandale Series newspapers