An “energy vampire” refers to the many gadgets and appliances that even when they are turned off, siphon electricity just by being plugged in. They lurk in our homes and take the form of phone chargers, air conditioners, cable boxes, laptop computers and coffee pots. In the United States alone, it is estimated that vampire devices will cost consumers more than $3 billion a year. On an individual level, that loss can account for as much as 20% of a monthly electricity bill. In fact, over time, many household standards such as microwaves and televisions will actually consume more electricity during the hours they are not in use than the times you’re actually using them to heat up dinner and watch your favorite show or cool your bedroom.

Top 5 energy vampires:

  1. Computers and computer-related equipment (modems, routers, etc.)
  2.  Instant-on TVs (LED, LCD and rear-projection). Rule of thumb, larger screens use more energy
  3. Surround sound systems
  4. Cable or satellite TV boxes
  5. Household items with a clock (microwave, DVD player, etc.)

How can you stop energy vampires?

  1. Unplug appliances and electronics, especially cell phone chargers and video game systems, when not in use.
  2. Use power strips that will turn off all appliances (TVs, cable/satellite boxes and DVD players) or electronics (all computer equipment) plugged into them.
  3. Turn off routers, printers and other peripheral computer equipment when not in use.

Many of us will re-charge our cell phones and think nothing of leaving them plugged into a charger while we sleep. If it’s warm when you wake up, then it’s been using electricity the entire time — even if it had nothing to charge.

As simple as it sounds, in order to drive a stake through the heart of the energy vampire that lurks in your home, all you need to do is identify the culprits and unplug them.

Want to get started right now?

Check out the money saving power strip from TrickleStar that will automatically turn off electronic devices when they are not in use. Doc Frugal uses it to automatically turn off all of the equipment connected to the TV (cable box, Xbox, Blu-Ray player, etc.) when he is not watching TV.

Doc also likes the power strip from Bestek that has individual switches for each item, allowing you to turn off power consuming cell phone chargers and other energy hogs without unplugging them. This is great for common areas where multiple chargers are plugged in. Leave them all plugged in, but only turn on what you are using!

Looking for a bit more convenience? Conico makes a  Wifi plug strip with individually Wifi controllable outlets.

Lastly, Belkin makes numerous energy saving products like this nifty little plug adaptor that adds a convenient power switch to just about any device. Belkin Wemo Wifi enabled plug adaptors take a step further by allowing you to turn devices off from your mobile phone or an Amazon Echo Dot device. How about a plug strip that has a handheld remote or a plug adaptor with a built in timer?

Do you want to know how much money you are saving by turning these devices off? Plug in a kill-a-watt and track your savings, or use it to find out which devices are the energy vampires! Doc can’t say enough about how valuable and enlightening a kill-a-watt can be!

For your convenience, Doc has rounded up the products mentioned in this article and linked to them  at Amazon.