Chances are, there are vampires inside your home sneakily hiding in wait. They don’t take the form of the iconic Christopher Lee’s Dracula, nor do they look like the fabulously ever-pale and ever-sparkling Edward Cullen. No, they’re something much more hurtful… to your wallet, that is. They’re the “Energy Vampires,” appliances that aren’t in use that still drain energy. They’re mostly disguised as AC adapters, converting currents they can access through outlets, into low voltage DC. When an electrical appliance is not in use, but still plugged in, a current is still flowing to them. Therefore, this causes the seemingly innocent coffee maker into a vicious energy thief. If you need an example, let me put it to you another way:
If you’re like the author of this blog, you probably own an adorably modest Dell laptop that fits comfortably upon thine lap. If you do, then you’re probably also aware that the charge cord emits a faint angelic glow when a connection has been established between the laptop and an appropriate power source. It will glow so long as it has energy to “drink”, regardless if you’re on the computer watching Youtube videos like they’re sitcoms, or you have shut it down to do something productive.
Even when we’re off our laptops, if the cord is not unplugged, energy is still used. Likewise, this happens to other appliances in our homes and offices as well, with one of the most prominent perpetrators being our cell phone chargers.
I’m sure you’ve come to realize you can’t fight these vampires off with garlic and a wooden stake. You can try, but that might not be the move to make. So, what can you do?
If you’re interested in visually seeing how your home might be affected by the vampire effect, here’s a little exercise that’s free to try: turn off anything that is in the “on” state. But, do not unplug anything you wouldn’t ordinarily unplug. This includes, for example, turning off your stove, your coffee maker if it’s on, and flipping off your light switches. If your phone charger’s in the wall, but not charging anything, just leave it. The same goes for anything else you find.
After that, visit whatever control panel that acts as the ultimate power switch for where you live. If you live in an apartment - like yours truly - you might be able to find the panel towards the entrance, or by the door. If you’re living in a home, there are two main places you can check: your garage or in your basement. Once you’ve found it, you’re golden. If you haven’t yet, and you’re having trouble, please feel free to contact someone to help you.
Once you’re all set, turn off the switches for your heating system, or the air conditioner. Also, turn off your hot water heater. Next, you’re going to need to check your electric meter box. If you live in a home, 9 times out of 10, you’ll be able to find it on one of its exterior sides. You may need to finesse your way through some bushes, but the effort will be worth it. If you live within an apartment this will be a bit more complex. Your specific meter will be grouped together with all your apartment-neighbors’ meters in a large residential meter stack. It’ll probably be a challenge to find your specific meter on your own. To save yourself some time, ask one of those lovely people in the front office where to find your meter.
Now, if you’ve ever checked this thing before, you may now be noticing how the numbers are lower than usual. This is because earlier, you shut off power to your hot water and air conditioner - two of the largest energy eaters in your living space. But, even though the numbers may be lower than usual, the meter is probably showing that the numbers are still climbing. The reason for that? Your plugged cellphone charger that isn’t charging anything. And your laptop you’re not using, but that is still plugged in. And anything else that falls into that category of “I’m not using it right now, and I probably should unplug this.” Then, refer to the list above, and be enlightened with this knowledge.
These practices will help you to become more of an energy-efficient person. You’ll be benefiting your neighbor, your community, random people you haven’t met before and likely will never meet. But, if you wrestle with your feelings about whether you like people, fret not: you can be selfish and still feel great for helping the environment.
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