What is Vampire Energy? – Infograph

Vampire Power infograph

– Designed and written by Andy Chu

In every household there’s a vampire that’s taking a big bite out of your wallet. But don’t worry, you don’t need a cross and a pile of garlic to ward it off, because what I’m referring to are the energy vampires who suck power from your electrical items when they are not in use – costing you potentially hundreds every year!

According to new research undertaken by Colmar Brunton Research and the Australian Energy Regulator, electricity prices have risen over 90 percent in the last 5 years 2 of 3 households in Australia worry about the cost of their next bill while they also feel they could know more on saving energy bills.

Reducing vampire energy can save you roughly 10% off your energy bill. What if I told you that you could kill some vampires, earn an extra hundred dollars or two, and help the environment at the same time? Impressed?

vampire energy by andy chu

Meet Dracula

The concept of vampire energy or ‘standby energy’ drain is simple: like blood thirsty creatures who prey on the innocent, common household electronics – such as microwaves, computers, televisions and phone chargers – drain your electricity even when they’re turned off or not performing their primary function. Basically you’re for energy on your bills for stuff you’re not even using and as long as they’re plugged in, these vampires are slowing sucking away.  Many electrical items that you think would not be drawing power when officially ‘turned off’ actually continue to consume power whilst on ‘standby’.

“There has been a proliferation of products that use standby power,” said Alan Meier, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who has worked extensively on the issue. “The modern home can easily have 40 or more devices that are drawing power continuously.” (Electrical Bloodsuckers)

While standby energy consumption is relatively small, experts have determined it makes up 5-10% of Australian residential energy and Australia spends approximately $950 million a year, enough to close down 30 power plants.

This means the average Australian family spends a minimum of $136 per year!

On the environmental side of things, standby energy has produced 6.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (equivalent to putting 1.5 million cars on the road).

Energy consumption infograph Household Energy Hierarchy

Slaying for savings

You can pull your devices out of the power socket, but they are usually placed in annoying locations! So there are many different ways to overcome this problem and why not receive a little financial gain in return?

  • Power strip or surge protectors: having to pull your devices in and out of the power socket is a pain, instead power strips or surge protectors are a more accessible solution as one flick of a switch, it powers your electronics and off when needed. If you have the right power strip, vampires won’t be sucking energy as surge protection blocks and diverts any excess current.
  • Smart switch/Green gadgets: These devices control your energy usage via many ways including smart phone integration, motion detection, timed sessions, etc. Example: the Belkin WeMo Switch – allows you to control your devices via the IFTTT recipes.
  • Energy Provider Input: if you’re Victorian, you have no doubt been notified about the government upgrade of all electricity meters by the end of 2013. Energy providers are preparing to integrate that system with their own services that will provide users with insights about their energy usage. This will allow you to manage your goals, savings and behaviour change for a reduction of your bills.
  • Government intervention: the Australian government have taken an interest in standby power and have began researching potential solutions to mitigate the problem. As part of the Victorian Government Energy Saver Incentive Scheme, Victorians are offered free Embertec SmartSwitches that is aimed at eliminating standby power and excess usage of electronics. Even though a drawback for the rest of Australia, the future of expanding to other states depends on the critical reception and results from current SmartSwitch users.

Too much Trouble?

I’m sure many of you might find this issue too small to worry but as Mark Berstein of University of Southern California’s Energy Institute suggests, we should think of energy usage like an election, one single vote may seem of little value but if you add them together, the impact is impeccable. “Everybody has to take their own responsibility, if everybody did it, it would make a big difference.”

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References 


91% increase in electricity prices in five years – The Queensland Times.” 2012. 21 May. 2013

My AGL IQ | AGL Energy.” 2013. 30 Apr. 2013

Electrical Bloodsuckers“: How to Slay ‘Energy Vampires’ in Your Home.” 2011. 30 Apr. 2013

Vampire Power Awareness from iGo – YouTube.” 2009. 30 Apr. 2013

Third Survey of Residential Standby Power … – Energy Rating.” 2011. 30 Apr. 2013

Vampire Video at iGo, Inc.” 2013. 30 Apr. 2013

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