Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Editor's Pick

Don't Get Drained by "Vampires"
Submitted by Chris Tomazic, AmeriCorps*VISTA for Media

The February edition of EarthWatch Ohio, a bi-weekly publication that encourages Ohio residents to be active in protecting the environment, informed me of a spooky situation that is in nearly every American household: energy vampires!

"You'll see them at night, when you get up for a trip to the fridge or bathroom, glowing dinly in the dark from the VCR or microwave. Those little lights that tell us our appliances are sleeping with one eye open - waiting to spring back to life with a push of the 'start' button."

Bob Ross, the aricle's author, is warning us against leaving appliances plugged into the outlet when not in use. Those appliances (like your microwave, computer and fax machine among others) continue to draw power because of a "stand-by" feature that comes standard on many appliances. By remaining powered, these appliances have the ability to start without a warm-up period. Eventhough it may seem that these would draw a inconsiquential amount of energy, when multiplied over the scale of the entire US, that energy really adds up.

"Current estimates puts that energy use in the U.S. at somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of our total household electrical use. That's at least 65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity yearly, valued at approximately $5.8 billion, generating somewhere around 87 billion pounds of global warming-causing carbon dioxide."

So, how can we stop the energy vampires? Most obivious, just unplug your machines when not in use. This may seem a bit tedious, but there are ways to ease the annoyance. Plug your machines into surge bars that have a master on/off switch you can switch to the off position. Or, if your outlets haev a on/off wall switch, just flip that. Finally, buy low standby power appliances. You'll want to find appliances that consume 1 watt or less in standby mode (looking for an Energy Star rating may alert you to this).

To read Ross's original article, visit

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