Top 10 Energy Vampires

The average American household spends nearly $2000 on energy bills every year, and this includes household appliances that quietly suck up electricity while you’re asleep or away at work. Even if you’ve turned the item off, you’re still using valuable energy (up to or over 10%) if it’s plugged into an outlet.

Being conscious about “energy vampires” and how much energy your appliances are zapping up can help the environment as well as save you money. These energy vampires can be identified as having an external power supply, a remote control, a battery charge, and a continuous display (such as a clock).

“Wall warts” like phone chargers that have large plugs are indeed energy vampires, as are the “bricks” that come in the form of clunky black boxes often found on cords with laptop computers and cable TV equipment. When left plugged in, these bricks are continuously using up your energy.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 household items that are sucking up your energy without your knowledge, and what you can do about it.


TVs may be getting slimmer, but they are a surefire way of draining energy in your house. While newer models equipped with LCD and LED technology are indeed more efficient, they are larger, which means they’re taking more power. If you’re getting a new TV, make sure it’s an energy-efficient ENERGY STAR model. LCD is most efficient for smaller sizes (50” or less) while DLP models that use LED light sources are the way to go for larger models. If you watch a lot of TV, avoid plasmas, which take up the most amount of energy.

Set-top boxes

More than 80% of U.S. homes are supplied with a cable or satellite television service that requires a set-top box. The nearly 160 million set-top boxes essentially operate at full power even when nothing is being watched or recorded, collectively costing the nation $2 billion every year. The rise in the use of DVRs, which can use around 40% more energy a year than non-DVR counterparts, has driven the cost up. Replacing outdated and inefficient boxes with ENERGY STAR models equipped with automatic low-power states, along with the shift towards digital streaming content could all reduce energy consumption in the future.


The refrigerator is the second-largest user of electricity in most homes, and you can’t exactly use it less for it to work properly. The good news is that new models are incredibly more efficient than old ones, with some estimating that trading in a 1979 fridge for a 2004 refrigerator saves you up to $238 a year. Try not to leave your fridge in a sunny space, make sure it’s well-ventilated and clean in the back, and that its seals are not decayed, allowing coolness to escape.

Personal computers

An increasing number of laptops and tablets run more efficiently with ENERGY STAR standards and longer battery life, but our increased use of these devices means we’re plugging them in more often. Making use of energy-saving features such as sleep mode, while disabling screensavers and curbing idle time is recommended.


While their harsh light has been criticized, swapping your old bulbs for compact fluorescent lights is a smart move. LED bulbs are now available in a wide range of options, such as warm white and soft white, and come in a variety of wattage. Remember to turn the lights off when you leave a room, whether they’re LED or not.

Air conditioner

48% of energy consumption in U.S. homes is for heating and cooling, while air conditioners use about 6% of all electricity produced, costing homeowners a staggering $30 billion. Switching to a high-efficiency system could reduce air conditioning energy use by 20% to 50%, while the quickest way to save on home cooling is to routinely clean and replace the cooling unit’s filters. Maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home by taking advantage of the naturally cooling wind and remembering to turn fans off when leaving the room can save energy and money.


Space heaters hog up a kilowatt or more of power, but they do allow you to only heat the parts of your home that you’re using. This can be offset by plugging heaters into power strips that are controlled by occupancy sensors. Heating water can equate to nearly 25% of all household power usage, so be cognizant of showering, washing your hands, and doing the laundry. Lowering your thermostat just one degree can save you up to 10% on your next bill.

Gaming console

Newer generations of gaming consoles like the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One may consume up to three times as much energy than their predecessors. A big reason for this is the high power demand in the device’s standby mode. Go into your console’s system settings and make sure your automatic power-down feature is enabled after an hour of inactivity.


Your microwave constantly uses energy to power its digital clock, and even though cooking food uses up much more electricity, it isn’t being used most of the time. Plug it into a power strip with your coffee maker and toaster oven and consider turning it off when it’s not in use.


Inkjet and multi-use printers use the most energy, so be cognizant of leaving them plugged in when they’re not in use.

Remember to turn off these energy vampires and give them some rest when you’re not using them, connect to power strips, and make smart upgrades to efficient ENERGY STAR devices with lower standby consumption.

Want more energy saving tips? Contact us for more information. We offer an array of electrical services for commercial and industrial projects of any size and scope.