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Are Electrical Vampires Costing You Money in Tallahassee?


Tallahassee-area residents pay some of the lowest electric rates in Florida. While the state’s average residential price per kilowatt hour (kWh) is 15.24 cents, most Tallahassee households are billed at a 12.34 cents per kWh rate. However, those cents add up, and during these inflationary times, most people are receptive to hearing new cost-cutting tips.

The professionals of Tallahassee’s Meeks Electrical Services can’t take any pennies off the kWh rate, but we can help you shave the watts off your household usage. And the less wattage you use, the fewer kWhs you’ll get billed for. This month, we will tell you how to decrease energy usage by driving a stake into the hearts of “electrical vampires.” These energy suckers could be costing you up to $200 per year for electricity that you’re not actually using, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

What Are Electrical Vampires?

Also known as “zombie power,” “phantom energy,” “idle power,” “electrical leaks,” and other terms, energy vampires are household appliances and devices that draw electricity from outlets even when turned off. Smart devices and other computerized electronics are responsible for most phantom power draws, but other appliances and electric equipment can draw idle power, too. For example, unless unplugged, most battery chargers and adaptors that convert AC power into DC power continue to draw electricity even if the battery or DC device is fully charged.

How to Recognize Electrical Vampires

In general, most modern electronics draw electricity when turned off or idle, and if it was marketed as a “smart” device, it’s almost sure to be an electrical vampire. Any device or equipment with a continuous electrical display screen draws power when not in use. This includes TVs, microwaves, coffee makers, gaming consoles, Bluetooth speakers, and anything else with a display showing time, settings, or other information. Even absent a visible display, many of today’s electronics have an internal clock that needs continuous power. Devices that need to receive signals from a remote controller, like TVs and gaming consoles, also cause a constant idle power draw. And, we’ve already pointed out the phantom draw from battery chargers and adapters.

Electrical Vampires Room by Room

Let’s go room-by-room in your home to identify potential electrical vampires further:

  • Living Room—TVs, DVR players, set-top cable boxes, sound systems, etc. (older models can draw up to 45 watts of energy when off).
  • Kitchen—microwave ovens, toaster ovens, coffee makers, and other smaller appliances with continuous displays (note that it’s impractical to try to reduce phantom power consumption from the refrigerator, range, or other large appliances).
  • Bathroom—hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, curling irons, electric shavers.
  • Home Office—desktop computers, laptops, printers, other computer peripherals.
  • Bedroom—Fortunately, there are few likely vampires where you sleep, but if the room has a TV or anything plugged in, consider whether they might be drawing wattage while idle.
  • Garage/Workshop—cordless power tools, electric yard tools, and anything you might plug into a charger.

How Much Those Electrical Vampires Cost

If you leave your cordless toothbrush charger plugged in all year long, it will probably only cost you a few pennies a day. However, as you might have heard from a grandparent, if you look after the pennies, the dollars will look after themselves.” And if you add up the numerous electronics in your home that may be continuously drawing idle power, those pennies multiply into dollars. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, to an amount equaling $165 annually per household on average, at a national cost of $19 billion.

Electrical Vampire Prevention Tips

You can’t use garlic or crosses to ward off these vampires, but keeping them from sucking up idle power is as easy as unplugging devices when not in use. This holds especially true for smaller mobile devices and equipment that rely on DC adaptors or battery charges.

For larger electronics or multiple devices in a single area—like your home entertainment center—consider using power strips that can cut the flow with the simple flick of a switch. As with other electronics, power strips have gotten “smart,” and you can find models that work by timer, activity monitoring, remote control, or through a master control that cuts power to peripherals when a primary device is turned off.

For optimal electrical vampire prevention, consider hiring a professional electrician to conduct a home energy audit. This comprehensive inspection of your home’s electrical usage will identify all inefficiencies and recommend appropriate money-saving upgrades and solutions. In Tallahassee, turn to Meeks Electrical Services for your energy audit.

For the Best in Service, Rely on Tallahassee’s Meeks Electrical

For all of your electrical service needs in the Tallahassee area, contact Meeks. From new construction to diagnosing and resolving electrical problems, you can contact us at (850) 575-3201.