Energy vampires suck the life from sustainable homes.
For those trying to maintain sustainable homes, Energy Vampires suck! (IBM Graphic)

by Dailey Haren~

Think about the times when you go to grab your cell phone charger left in the outlet and it’s warm to the touch. We’ve all had that experience. That heat is the physical proof ofEnergy Vampires; unused electronics and chargers left plugged in that continue to use energy. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) calculates that up to 10% of all  energy used in the United States is pointlessly consumed by these Energy Vampires.  On a national scale, converting 10% of our national energy use means these Energy Vampires suck about 2,500 Terawatt hours of electricity (2,500,000,000 kWh) and release 4.6 billion pounds of Co2 into our atmosphere. We at Envirohaven™ strive to approach the design, construction and maintenance of green homes and sustainable homes in a “holistic” way. We wondered how electronic use can be improved within green homes, or any home, in order to better supplement a sustainable lifestyle, whether grid tied or off grid. Minimizing these wasteful, unproductive uses is an easy place to start, even for those of us who are not living in what would generally be considered sustainable homes!   If 10% of all energy used in the United States in due to unused devices in our homes, we can then assume that about 10% of your household’s energy bill is paying for unused energy, uselessly derived, uselessly transported, uselessly paid for. It’s easy enough for you to look at your own power bill and use of these Energy Vampires to compute the savings you can expect. In 2014, US households consumed an average of 911 kWh per month. That equates to over $80/mo. for those of us who live here in Nevada. There are a lot of things we would rather spend our ~$100/yr. on than creating waste! Above is a graph showing  the average  “vampire” energy use per device to help you understand what some of the largest culprits are. You can find a more in depth cart at this Government link.

Power strip for sustainable living.
Sustainable homes use power strips

The good news? Energy Vampires can be cut off completely by three very simple practices:

  1. Unplug chargers when you are not using them.
  2. Connect all appliances and electronics to power strips that can be easily shut off when not in use.
  3. Limit idling time on devices such as computers and video games.

If you are living or looking to live with minimal electrical consumption or even off grid, cutting your energy consumption by 10% will help to reduce the size of the Photo Voltaic (PV) system needed to purchase and maintain for sustainable homes. It will also positively impact the size of battery storage systems and the life span of those expensive deep cell batteries; reducing toxic waste in the future.   Progress on this line of thinking can be found in a new evolution of ideas and products striving to do more with less. One example is GE, through their Ecomagination  division (Mission: To enhance resource productivity and reduce environmental impact at a global scale through commercial solutions for our customers and through our own operations) combined with Frog Design to create a product called EcoSwitch , a simplified kitchen appliance system that includes 6 devices in 1. Even those of us living in sustainable homes like our Haven® home, can find ways to save even more on our power usage! At Envirohavensustainable homes, we maintain that green building is best supported through green living. Reducing or eliminating your energy sucking vampires is a simple way to start making sustainable lifestyle changes that will produce tangible results! If you have had success reducing energy vampires or know of cool new energy efficient products, please share.