By PSC Chair Charlotte Lane
There are vampires in my house! I’ll bet there are some in yours, too. There’s no danger that they will turn into bats or drain our blood. These vampires are much more subtle. They feed on your electricity, drive up your power bill and drain your wallet. That’s pretty scary! No tricks here, the Public Service Commission wants to treat you to some ideas that will help you save money on your utility bills.
Vampire energy, also known as ghost energy or phantom load, is consumed by electric appliances that draw power even when turned off. This power drain is pretty easy to eliminate once you find it. What makes it troublesome is that it hides in places where you wouldn’t normally think to look, so let me help.
Turn off the lights tonight. You can tell ghost stories if you want, but first look for anything that glows in the dark. You’ll probably spot the clocks on the microwave and coffee maker right away. Depending on your setup, small appliances can be unplugged when not in use. If that’s inconvenient, try plugging them into a surge protector that can be turned on and off with a switch. It’s impractical to cut the electric supply to large appliances, such as the stove and dishwasher when they aren’t being used, but smaller appliances don’t need to be turning the meter 24 hours a day.
The biggest culprits are electronics. Are you guilty of leaving chargers plugged in when you aren’t charging your phones or other devices? If you do, it’s costing you money. Do you have a voice-activated assistant that is constantly in standby mode, listening for your voice commands? Hey, Alexa, how much electricity do you consume every day?
Other devices that go into standby mode include computer monitors, printers, TVs, or cable/satellite systems. Leaving your DVR in standby mode can cost upwards of $50 a year. Are the kids leaving the video games on? They draw electricity from the wall, which draws money from your pocket.
This Halloween, don’t get tricked by vampire energy. Invest in surge protectors and plug-in timers. Turn those electronics all the way off and treat yourself to some energy savings.