By Jeff Schwartz
Everyday we’re surrounded by vampires, electricity vampires that is. While we may not think about it there are many products that are consuming vast amounts of energy that go completely unnoticed. The vampire products and vampire energy (the energy consumed by an appliance or electronic device while turned off or not operating in its primary mode) are dual threats in not only increasing utility costs but also harming the environment.
Appliances and electronic devices typically use somewhere in the range of 1 to 50 or more watts of constant standby power. While this may not seem like much, the International Energy Agency reports that this is responsible for roughly 1 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and nearly 5% of all energy used in the US.
Your home is riddled with products that are hogging energy. In the average American home vampire electronics account for about $130 per year in electricity usage. If you totaled it across the entire US the Department of Energy estimates that it would equal near $4 billion in wasted energy! Using the national average electricity cost of 11.8 cents per kilowatt-hour the some of the worst offenders are:
Annual Energy Cost
|Computer speaker system|
|Laptop (fully charged)|
|External USB hard drive|
|LCD computer monitor|
Fortunately there is electronic vampire garlic, for those looking to not only reduce their footprint but also help their wallet. Smart power strips can monitor electricity usage and automatically cut power to devices while in vampire mode.
While home electronics certainly consume more than their share of electricity there are also products that are rarely thought of that are also consuming energy every day. Products like emergency exit signs are mandated by law but rarely thought of and can be a large source of energy consumption within businesses and public buildings. As a result these signs are continuously on, 24/7, 365 days a year. East Carolina University’s Center for Sustainable Tourism has some compelling data that highlights ranges of energy consumption by the variety of exit signs:
While over the past decade there’s been a large adoption of LED exit signs with nearly 90% of the exit signs purchased in the US during that time being of the LED variety. While LED exit signs are a large step up from incandescent and fluorescent options a newer options can help bring down the consumption even further. LEC (electroluminescent, light emitting capacitors) signs are the new wave and consume only about 10% of that used by LED signs. These signs not only consume 1/10th the energy, they also last 5-10 times longer!