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Have Vampires Invaded Your Home?

What you can do with the energy-sucking devices to save money

With today’s electronics, turning them off doesn’t save as much energy as you think. “Off” doesn’t necessarily mean off anymore.

Many gadgets use energy even when you are not using them, and the “vampire energy” consumed by TVs, computers and other devices when they’re switched off adds up. Entertainment centers are full of these energy-sucking devices.

Most televisions slowly sip electricity while waiting for someone to press the “on” button. They use energy to remember channel lineups and keep time. DVD players, digital video recorders, and cable and satellite boxes also use energy when we think they’re off.

In an average home, 5–8 percent of electricity consumption stems from small devices, wasting approximately $70 worth of power every year.

Identify Plug Parasites

Microwave ovens and alarm clocks, which use relatively small amounts of standby power, are acceptable to leave plugged in. Game systems, TVs and other entertainment components use fairly significant amounts of power when turned off.

Try plugging household electronics such as computers, monitors, printers, cellphone chargers and game systems into power strips. Not only do power strips protect from power surges, they allow you to turn off several items at once.

You don’t have to worry about unplugging items with mechanical on/off switches, such as lamps, hair dryers or many small kitchen appliances—they don’t draw any power when turned off.

Smart Strips = Easy Savings

Most smart strips feature three outlet colors, each with a unique task. Anything plugged into red outlets stays on—electricity to these receptacles never cuts off, making them perfect for satellite or cable boxes. The blue outlet serves as a control plug and is ideal for a typically heavily used device like a TV or computer.

The remaining outlets, generally neutral or green in color, are sensitive to current flowing through the blue outlet, so turning off the TV or computer cuts power to them as well.

Payback for smart strips can generally be achieved in less than one year.