This Halloween, the nation’s electric companies urge you to protect your home against vampires—not the blood-sucking kind, the energy-sucking kind. "Energy vampires" are those electric and gas-powered appliances that use energy even when you think they are turned off. Home electronics—computers, TVs, VCRs/DVD players, set-top boxes, and stereos—are the scariest energy vampires. While no one is using them, they cost the average U.S. household $100 a year in electricity, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
But they are not the only energy vampires lurking in your home. Pilot lights on some natural gas or propane appliances—water heaters, dryers, fireplaces, and stoves—use energy even when you think the appliance is off. These pilot lights stay on all the time to light the appliance's main flame when it is required. For appliances like fireplaces, turn off the pilot light except when it is needed in the heating season. When you are buying a new gas appliance, make sure it has electronic ignition and does not require a standing pilot light.
Chargers for battery-powered cell phones, electric toothbrushes, and power tools are energy vampires, too. Fortunately, it is easy to put a stake in them—just unplug them. And when shopping for a new charger, look for one that has earned the EPA ENERGY STAR. On average, ENERGY STAR-qualified battery chargers will use 35 percent less energy than conventional models.
In the United States alone, more energy efficient battery chargers have the potential to save Americans more than 1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year, according to EPA. This could save Americans more than $100 million annually the EPA believes, while preventing the release of more than one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions— equivalent to the emissions of 150,000 cars.
If you think your electric bill has gotten a bit scary, check with your electric company for energy saving assistance. Electric company Web sites have tips and ideas to help you get more value from your monthly electric bill. And that is a treat everyone can appreciate.
For more information about energy efficiency and how electric companies can help, please visit www.eei.org/wiseuse