Halloween: A perfect time to rid your home of energy vampires

Laura Oakleaf

Beware of energy vampires lurking in your home this Halloween season (and all year round)! They are the appliances and electronics that are plugged in and suck power from the electrical outlets when you aren’t using them -- leaving you to still pay for that electric use. Some of the biggest offenders are older set-top cable boxes and DVRs, as well as video game consoles. But don’t be afraid; there are simple ways to rid your home of these unwanted monsters.

  1. Make an inventory of all of the always-on appliances and electronics so you better understand where all of the vampire energy is loitering in your home. You can research how much energy each of those items pulls or you can use an electricity usage monitor to find out exactly how much energy each device pulls. There are various public libraries throughout Cook County that have these monitors available for borrowing for free for library patrons, including: Arlington Heights, Bellwood, Elmhurst, Elmwood Park, Glencoe, Glenview, LaGrange Park, Mount Prospect, North Riverside, Northbrook, Orland Park, Riverside, Roselle, Tinley Park, Westmont and Wilmette.
  2. Unplug! If you have extra appliances or devices that aren’t regularly used, go ahead and unplug them. Some examples are a TV and DVD player in a guest room or a rarely used toaster oven sitting in your kitchen.
  3. Plug items into power strips and make sure to turn off those power strips when you aren’t using the appliances. Or better yet, get a smart power strip that will cut power being pulled automatically when your devices aren’t being used. You can get a free smart power strip as part of your free home energy assessment from ComEd. Click to learn more details about how to arrange your free home energy assessment today.
  4. Change the settings of your electronics to make them more energy efficient. You can change the setting on your computer so that the monitor or screen turns off after 15 minutes and the computer goes to sleep after 30 minutes. For video game consoles, make sure that the Auto Power Down option is enabled so that they will turn off after extended periods of inactivity. According to Natural Resources Defense Council, if left on indefinitely, these consoles can use 60 to 100 watts of power, leading to wasting $50 to $100 a year.
  5. When replacing your appliances, make sure to consider ENERGY STAR appliances. They use considerably less energy and there are often rebates available from your utility when you purchase them. For example, an old refrigerator uses almost twice energy as a new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator and an ENERGY STAR certified television is 25 percent more efficient than a conventional model. To learn more about the benefits of ENERGY STAR, visit energystar.gov .

Want to learn more about how to save energy and money all year long with smart meter and energy efficiency programs? Visit www.cookcountyil.gov/service/energy-efficiency or email sarah.edwards@cookcountyil.gov