How to Slay Energy Vampires

I admit it. I tend to be an energy vampire slayer. You know, someone who unplugs anything that is plugged in and drawing power while it is turned off or not operating. My brother recently got annoyed with me at a family gathering because I unplugged his cell-phone charger; there was no cell phone attached to the charger. Chargers left plugged into the wall sans phone have become a pet peeve of mine. I realize that with today’s new phones and chargers, the amount of energy the charger is drawing after the cell phone is disconnected is minimal. But it’s still drawing something, and I can’t bear knowing that!

In honor of Halloween this week, I wanted to put a spotlight on retrofit‘s team, who prove I am in good company. I asked them to share their tip(s) for saving energy in their homes and/or offices. We hope you get a few ideas to help slay the energy vampires around you this week and into the future.

Elyse Cooper, senior editor: “I placed my desk in front of the window. During mild weather, I have plenty of fresh air, often eliminating the need to run the a/c or ceiling fan. It also provides ample natural light. I have never used the overhead light in my office; the natural light is sufficient for my needs. According to the American Council for an Energy-efficient Economy, lighting accounts for 5 to 10 percent of total energy use in the average American home.

“My printer is scheduled to automatically turn on and off; it’s usually on for about six hours per day. While it’s on and not active, it automatically goes into an energy-efficient/sleep mode.

“During the winter months, I keep the rest of the house at a cooler temperature and use a space heater for my office. That way I am not wasting energy heating the rest of the rooms, which I do not use during business hours. (My lap cat also provides warmth!)

“I’m conscious of my paper use. I rarely print pages and, when I do, I always save the page and print on the other side eventually, rather than using only one side of the paper before recycling it.”

John Riester, publisher: “I put up Halloween lights and installed a light sensor to save energy. It turns on at night and goes off in the morning. It saves energy and the hassle of going outside to plug and unplug every night!”

John J. Noonan, vice president of Facilities Management, Duke University, and a retrofit editorial advisor: “This past summer I replaced the three non-programmable thermostats in my home with programmable Honeywell ’stats that are also Wi-Fi and run on an iPhone app. I am able to control temps from afar or locally.”

Nathan Gillette, AIA, LEED-AP, CEM, vice president and director, Energy Finance Analytics LLC, and a retrofit editorial advisor: “Many pieces of equipment can draw phantom loads of power even when switched off. A ‘smart’ power strip cycles equipment on and off based on an occupancy sensor attached to the power strip. When the room is empty the smart strip senses no one is there and cuts all power to non-essential equipment. When you come back into the room to power is returned to the circuit. These controls could be used for computer monitors, task lights, space heaters or anything else that is not critical to keep power to at all times.”

William E. Holloway, AIA, LEED AP, principal, Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects LLC, and a retrofit editorial advisor: “One easy way to get the most value for your energy-efficiency investment is to use conventional lighting fixtures with retrofitted replacement LED lamps. Technology has advanced so quickly that there are now LED replacement bulbs for most conventional incandescent and fluorescent lamps, saving up to 80 percent in lighting energy use. For examples check out Sylvania’s website.

How do you slay energy vampires? Please share your tips in the comments section below.

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

1 Comment on "How to Slay Energy Vampires"

  1. Jen Marsik Friess | November 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm |

    Christina, I am like you, unplugging cell phone chargers. I’m either driving my husband nuts OR getting him on the same page; you’ll have to ask him! We live in Texas and have very hot summers. I work at home, and lower the blinds as needed as the sun moves around the house throughout the day to prevent solar heat gain from making the HVAC work too hard. When the weather gets cooler, I turn off the AC and use open windows and ceiling fans to manage the temperature in the house.

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