Vampire Appliances

I’m going to call the vampire living in my house Erik. I suspect he’s an old and strong vampire.

I have lots of gadgets, and I have a real history of not paying attention to how much electricity I’m using. When they started writing us up for wasting energy at work, though, I began to wonder if maybe the small things really do matter.

It seems they do.

I ran across the term vampire electricity while looking up information about low fume paints. Don’t ask me how the two went together. It’s all about taking care of your house, I guess. Suffice it to say I diverted the path of my attention at that point, completely losing interest in painting a bedroom. Now I’m all about looking for things to unplug.

Evidently, a significant chunk of the electricity consumed in a typical house goes to vampire appliances, those sucking electrons out of the grid even when they are turned off. Unplugging or plugging them into power strips that can be turned off can save a noticeable amount on your electric bill.

Do you really need a clock running on five appliances in one room all day every day? Why not unplug the coffeepot when it isn’t making coffee? Why not unplug the microwave when it isn’t making waves?

Maybe the differences seem negligible if we’re talking about perhaps saving $20 a month on your utility bill, though $20 is lunch money for 3 1/2 days at the going rate on my campus. It is worth saving.

The real point, though, is in the power of the many. By the time 300 people save $20, that’s $6000, which is the whole point the school has been trying to make in policing our electronic habits.

We’re using too much electricity as a society. I think we usually assume there’s nothing an individual can do about that without taking drastic measures like electing to bake through the summer rather than use the air conditioner. Not so. Little steps do matter. Thousands of little steps from thousands of people matter a whole awful lot.

Excuse me now. I see a light blinking on an iPod dock. I have to go pull the plug on Erik.

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