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The desktop computer in your office. The living room TV and gaming console in standby or rest mode. Even the cell phone charger you keep plugged in throughout the day. All of these items are responsible for contributing to your “vampire load,” also known as the “phantom load.” Vampire loads come from devices that use electricity even when they appear to be off. These loads are approaching 10 percent of the average household electric use, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Electronics and appliances in standby or rest modes require a little electricity to maintain minimal function of the device so it’s ready to go when you return to using it. The primary culprits are televisions, desktop computers and, particularly, gaming consoles which can use as much electricity as a refrigerator even when not in use thanks to frequent system updates. Chargers are another contributor to the phantom load. A single charger might not be a drain on your bill, but in an increasingly plugged in world, the impact can begin to add up. 

So how can you limit your vampire loads? The obvious solution is to simply unplug devices when not in use and disabling auto-update features that draw power when in rest mode. If you want a limited impact on your daily routine, consider investing in smart power strips. These devices can usually connect to your phone through WiFi or Bluetooth so you can turn them off and on automatically. Many of them even come with surge protection to keep your devices safe during storms or other events that may cause a surge. 

In the digital, connected age, these vampire, or phantom, loads can become a real problem. A little investment and some small changes can end up saving you on your bill. For more energy efficiency information, check out My Energy.