How Much Money Is Wasted on Vampire Power?

An estimated $10 billion US Dollars (USD) is wasted each year in the US on vampire power, or energy that is used by electronic devices that are plugged in but have been turned off. Common examples of energy vampires are televisions, microwaves, electronic chargers, computers and battery-powered remote controls. About 10% of energy used in the average American household is thought to be vampire power, and it costs more than $100 USD per year for the average household. The effects of energy vampires can be reduced by unplugging unused electronics or using a central power strip that can be turned off when the devices plugged into it are not in use.

More about energy usage:

  • Plugged-in electronic devices that are not switched on are estimated to use more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of electricity each year in the US.

  • About 5% of all of the energy consumed in the world is vampire energy consumption from the US.

  • The European Union, US, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and New Zealand are among the countries that certify products that have been specifically designed to use less energy.
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Discussion Comments


@ankara-- Good question. I'm not one hundred percent sure about this, but I think that aside from the extension cord itself, the other stuff plugged into won't use up power when you turn it off. The extension cord might not use power either when switched off, I'm not sure.

Switching the extension off is basically like pulling the power cords of all the appliances attached to it. So they should not be using vampire energy. This is actually a great way to save energy.


@dwp-- You have a point.

I first heard about vampire power five years ago and have been unplugging things when I don't use them ever since. I unplug my laptop and TV every night. The exceptions to this are my microwave and alarm clock because I can't bother with resetting them every morning.

Manufacturers definitely need to do something about this.


I had no idea that devices use up electricity even when they're not in use.

What about power extension cables with a switch? I use these all around the house and just switch them off when I go to bed. Are they still using up power despite being switched off?!


I see this well-meaning warning on various sites, newspaper articles, etc. There's only one problem, and call it an unintended consequence.

Devices, such as TVs, VCRs, DVD player/recorders, TIVOs and microwave ovens contain clocks and timers with menu selections stored in memories. These memories obtain holding power from that "vampire drain". Some have backup batteries or capacitors, but these may last from four hours to only a minute.

If you interrupt power to them for more than their backup time, the next time you reapply it, you will find the flashing 12:00 digits or a similar indication. That means you will have to reset the time, date and any other items such as channels, schedules of favorite programs, recordings, scheduled cook times, etc. Needless to say, a device programmed to do something at a future time won't if unplugged.

The only solution at present would be if manufacturers used "non-volatile" memories and most don't. Some don't even have backup batteries. It is easy to make a money statistic sound huge when you apply it to 350 million pennies (I wish everyone in the US would send me one). My advice is to forget this warning. Have governments mandate non-volatile memories (fat chance).

At present, forget the bean-counters and leave them plugged in. In fact, it is a good idea to have Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) on critical items both for surge protection and in case of power outages.

The only devices that remain a significant saver would be unused battery chargers.

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