This time of year, lots of us are decorating our homes with all things spooky. But there’s something else lurking around the house year-round that you probably aren’t thinking about: vampire appliances.
Sounds like a bad horror flick, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s all too real. Vampire appliances are electronic devices like televisions and game consoles that continue drawing power even when you think you’ve turned them off. And because they’re drawing power, they’re adding to your energy bill.
In fact, vampire appliances account for about 10 percent of an average household’s energy bill, according to the Association of Energy Services Professionals. As a whole, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that idle gadgets waste more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually—costing consumers a terrifying $10 billion each year.
How many vampire appliances are in your home? Here’s a list of the top 10, in order of their energy-sucking appetite:
1. Flat-screen TVs
2. Home computers (laptops and desktops)
3. Video game consoles
4. Digital video recorders
5. Cable boxes
6. Cable modems
7. Laser printers
8. DVD players
9. Cell phone/tablet chargers
10. Small appliances, such as microwaves, toasters ovens and coffee makers
If you’re not sure whether an electronic device or appliance is an energy vampire, first check the plug. Many have rectangular adapter boxes on their plugs that stay warm even when the devices are off, indicating they’re still drawing power. Others use standby power to always run digital clocks or display lights.
The good news is that you can have the upper hand in warding off these vampires, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars each year. Here are five tools at your disposal:
Each year Yolo County has fierce summers with 100+ degree days. It's natural for us to mosey on indoors, crank up the AC and relax. Here are a few suggestions that will help you stay cool without costing too much.
1. Open the house up in the mornings and nights. While not all Yolo County nights cool down, there are those that do and luckily get a nice Delta breeze. Take advantage of those cooler outdoor temperatures to naturally "air condition" your home. If you have a whole house fan put it to use.
2. Turn off lights. If you're still lighting your home with incandescent bulbs pay attention to how much heat they put off. Incandescent can reach scorching temperatures from 390 to 500 °F. So, if you are lighting up your house you are heating up your house. You may want to consider switching to LED bulbs.
3. Avoid using the stove and oven. Don't heat up your house with appliances, use your microwave to heat up meals or take it outside and BBQ. Also, eat cold foods like salads and sandwiches, maybe a bowl of ice cream for dinner?
4. Use ceiling fans. Cooling with ceiling fans will allow you to feel 3 -6 degrees cooler. This can help lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort. If your heading out, turn them off.
5. Lower your water heater to 120 °F. Since we are already so warm you might consider turning down your water heater to save energy but also to cool down in the shower. Lowering your water heater temperature can also reduce burns.
6. Get out of the house. If you have a swimming pool head out back for some refreshing laps. If not, consider visiting a local pool for a dip. If swimming isn't your thing, visit a local library or a near by cooling center.
7. Stay hydrated. Most important with these rising temperatures is to stay hydrated and have some safe summer fun.
1. Home Energy Checkup. It's hard to know how to save energy if you are unsure of what's using energy. Do a quick 5-minute assessment with PG&E's Home Energy Checkup to find out where you're using the most energy.
2. Open Windows. With nice temperatures, why not open up windows and enjoy some fresh air. Opening windows allows you to naturally cool your home without switching on air conditioners.
3. Use Ceiling Fans. Cooling your home with ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat four degrees. This can help lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort. If your heading out, turn them off.
4. Seal Air Leaks. Weather stripping windows and doors can save up to $50 a year in heating costs and keep your home comfortable. Learn how to weatherstripping with this DIY video.
5. Use Natural Lighting. Flip off the switch and give those light bulbs a break. Open up shades and light the sun shine in.
6. Program Your Thermostat. On warm days, setting a programmable thermostat to a higher setting when you are not at home can help reduce your energy costs by approximately 10 percent.
7. Service Your HVAC System. Heating and cooling accounts for over 44 percent of your home energy bill. Lower your monthly energy bill by keeping your air conditioning equipment working at peak efficiency. PG&E's AC Quality Care can help.
8. Replace Air Filters. A dirty air filter makes your unit work harder which uses more energy. Change out your air filter regularly, at least every 90 days and more frequently if you have pets.
9. Air Dry Laundry. If it's a nice day out why not hang dry your laundry.
10. Vacuum Refrigerator Coils. Dust that builds up on refrigerator coils can cause the motor to work harder, using more energy.