Four energy vampires you haven’t considered

By Tim Ebner, Contributing writer
on October 24, 2019

Halloween may be a spooky time of year, but there’s one thing that shouldn’t scare you easily — your home’s electric bill. Let’s say your electric bill is scary high. What should you do? Answer: Go looking for vampires.

I’m not talking about those blood-thirsty vampires that you need a wooden stake or clove of garlic to defeat, instead, I’m talking about the energy vampires silently lurking around your home.

Here are four common household devices that tend to use the most standby power, as measured by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Managed by the University of California.

Digital Cable Box with DVR. Need another reason to break up with your cable company? That cable box/DVR machine might be the biggest energy vampire in your home.

Berkeley Lab tested these devices and found that even when not turned on and recording TV, the device used on average 44.63 watts. The good news, however, is that cable companies are catching on quick — in August, an industry report found that set-top box energy use has decreased by 40 percent since 2012.

Game Console. Do you have a gamer in the house? Turns out that Nintendo, PlayStation, or Xbox might actually be eating into your energy bill too. When in use, these devices use on average 26 watts, but they do much less damage if turned completely off — only 1 watt is used on average.

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However, many of these devices also have a “ready” or “pause” feature which keeps the gaming console up and running for extended periods of time. If this mode is activated, the device uses on average nearly 23 watts.

Laptops and tablets. As you sleep, it might be convenient to keep a work laptop or tablet plugged into the wall and charging for the next workday, but these devices usually only need an hour or two to recharge. For those that keep a laptop or tablet plugged in and turned on in sleep mode, it uses on average 15.77 watts.

Speakers. With the proliferation of Bluetooth technology, it’s easier than ever to take multiple speakers and sync them together to create a seamless sound experience throughout your home. While this may result in easy listening, it can also mean the speakers and subwoofers are always turned on. That results in a consistent use of standby power too. A subwoofer turned on and not playing any music uses on average 10.7 watts; meanwhile, something as small as a computer speaker uses 4.12 watts.

For a complete look at standby power used by common household devices, visit Berkeley Lab’s website.

Tim Ebner is a contributing writer for The Washington Post,Thrillist, Eater, and Matador Networks.