Kill Vampire Power on Halloween

Plugged-in devices suck energy, even when they're not in use.

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Halloween isn't until tomorrow, but Best Buy has declared today Vampire Day. Not the vampires you ward off with garlic and by driving a stake through their heart, of course—but vampire power, which is the energy consumed by plugged-in appliances while they're not in use.

According to Best Buy, "This insidious phenomenon is responsible for wasting an estimated $4 billion in the U.S. annually, and the Department of Energy notes that this figure could rise by 20 percent by 2010. Forty percent of all electricity used to power electronics and appliances in the average American home is consumed while they are turned off and the government has estimated that 'vampire power' consumes enough energy to equal to the output of 17 power plants."

So how do you kill vampire power before it costs you any more money?

  • Unplug your gadgets when you're done using them, obviously.
    • Plug your chargers into a power strip that can be turned off when it's not in use. Best Buy notes, "Only 5 percent of the power drawn by a cellphone charger is used to charge the phone—the other 95 percent is wasted when it is left plugged into the wall."
      • Think about buying a meter to see which devices in your house are using the most energy.
        • Get a smart power strip that cuts the power when the device isn't in use.
          • A smart power strip is especially important to consider if you have a plasma-screen TV--they're big energy hogs.
            • Turn off your computer every night--computers waste at least $70 a year in sleep mode.
              • Buy Energy Star devices.
                • Find more energy-saving tips here.