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Pull the plug on vampire power

This article was published in February 2022 and may be outdated.

They suck electricity even when they appear to be off, earning the name “energy vampires,” or phantom loads.

Natural Resources Canada says some appliances and electronics in your home consume power even when you’re not using them and can account for five to 10 per cent of a household’s electricity bill.

What’s an energy vampire? It can be your TV or cable box, or any household device operated by remote control that consumes electricity when it’s in standby mode as it waits for a signal to be turned on.

Home computers, cell phone chargers, coffee makers, microwave ovens, game consoles and stereos are also common culprits. Any appliance with a digital display or clock when not being used draws power.

The easiest way to slay an energy vampire – and reduce your electric bill – is to unplug electronics when not in use, say like when you’re away from your house for a few days or unplugging a TV in a vacant guest room.

You can also use a smart power strip, which recognizes when appliances switch to standby mode and automatically cuts power to that device. ENERGY STAR® certified products and appliances also have technology built in to reduce the amount of standby power used when the appliance is turned off.

In the bathroom, unplug hair dryers, curling irons, electric shavers and toothbrushes when not in use – it’s much safer and you’ll save energy. The same goes for other rooms: unplug cordless vacuum and tool chargers when the batteries are fully charged. Most only need about an hour to charge.

See more information about standby power and a link to Natural Resources Canada for additional advice.