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"Vampire" Appliances -- They Suck Electricity Even When Switched Off
Science Daily ^ | 9-27-2002

Posted on 09/27/2002 4:43:26 PM PDT by blam

Date: Posted 9/27/2002

"Vampire" Appliances -- They Suck Electricity Even When Switched Off -- Cost Consumers $3 Billion A Year, Says Cornell Energy Expert

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The typical American home has 20 electrical appliances that bleed consumers of money. That's because the appliances continue to suck electricity even when they're off, says a Cornell University energy expert. His studies estimate that these so-called "vampire" appliances cost consumers $3 billion a year -- or about $200 per household. "Off doesn't mean off anymore, but standby," says Mark Pierce, a Cornell Cooperative Extension associate in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis (DEA) in Cornell's College of Human Ecology. "As a result, we're using the equivalent of seven electrical generating plants just to supply the amount of electricity needed to support the standby power of our vampire appliances when they're off."

And since much of electricity generated in the United States comes from fossil-fuel power plants, vampire appliances significantly contribute to the production of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants, Pierce says in a recent issue of Housing and Home Environment News (summer 2002), a DEA publication.

Electrical appliances slurp up energy even when switched off in order to support features such as timers, clocks, memory and remote "on" and "off" switches, says Pierce. "Satellite receivers for televisions and VCRs, among other appliances, use almost as much electricity when they are switched off as when they are on," he points out.

Satellite TV systems and some DVD players, for example, each cost about $9 a year for standby power; an energy-thirsty TV can cost more than $10 a year. The vampire appliance bill becomes significant when audio systems, garage-door openers, clock radios, phone/answering machines, microwave ovens and standard ovens are included.

The standby power of a computer monitor, however, only costs about $3 a year when the computer is shut down nights and weekends. However, if the computer's "sleep" function is used, the power costs $41 a year for those nights and weekends -- almost as much as the $57 a year it costs to run the computer just on weekdays.

Worldwide, standby power consumes an average of 7 percent of a home's total electricity bill, although that figure is as much as 25 percent in some homes. In Australia, standby power accounts for 13 percent of total energy use; in Japan it accounts for 12 percent; and in the United States, 5 percent.

Increasing the efficiency of appliances would cut standby power consumption by about 72 percent, according to a recent study by the International Energy Agency in France.

"Yet the vast majority of consumers aren't even aware that electrical appliances continue to draw electricity when switched off," says Pierce. "And even if they were aware, they would not be able to purchase a non-vampire, or at least a less voracious vampire appliance, because no regulation requires manufacturers to label how much electricity their appliances draw when off."

What can consumers do? Pierce offers several actions:

o If timers and other features aren't being used, consumers can turn off their most wasteful appliances by plugging them into fuse-protected power strips (also known as surge protectors) that, when turned off, can disrupt the flow of electricity when the appliances aren't being used.

o Consumers can encourage their U.S. representatives to support legislation that would require labeling of appliances with their standby energy requirements.

o When choosing a new appliance, consumers can research if it uses less than 1 watt of standby power by accessing web sites such as http://standby.lbl.gov/data/1wproducts.html at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: appliances; electricity; vampire
My satellite TV occassionally has a alert that comes onto the screen that says I should plug it into the telephone line. It wants to make phone calls too?
1 posted on 09/27/2002 4:43:27 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
I have a dog that lips the word s-t-e-a-k! Do you think this must be the end of the world?
2 posted on 09/27/2002 4:46:01 PM PDT by A CA Guy
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To: blam
Yup, it wants to call your ex-girlfriend and tell her what you've been watching :o)
3 posted on 09/27/2002 4:47:23 PM PDT by Poohbah
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To: blam
This brought up a question for me....what's the wattage used for a home PC? I've heard in the area of 400 Watts.

Blam, did you weather the storm ok??

4 posted on 09/27/2002 4:47:43 PM PDT by ErnBatavia
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To: blam
Plugging in the phone line allows you to order Pay Per View and other pay-TV services without calling anyone. Plus, they are able to verify that you aren't getting channels you do not pay for...
5 posted on 09/27/2002 4:48:26 PM PDT by SunStar
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To: blam
What can consumers do? Pierce offers several actions:

We can also build more nuclear power plants.
That'll enable us to reduce fossil-fuel greenhouse emissions while still enjoying the convenience of these "vampire" appliances.

6 posted on 09/27/2002 4:48:44 PM PDT by Willie Green
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To: blam
It wants to place a call to your dish subscriber and notify it of any pay per views you have used.

If you are on dish network you can plug your phone line in get a pay per view, and then within about a minute unplug your phone line and voila you have just gotten the movie for free. Until of course you fill up the card that's inside your receiver. Then...you have to flush it to get rid of the pirated movies you have gotten.

I've never done it myself but I hear it works.


7 posted on 09/27/2002 4:49:37 PM PDT by unixfox
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To: Willie Green
EARTH FIRST!

We'll strip-mine the other planets later.

:o)

8 posted on 09/27/2002 4:50:16 PM PDT by Poohbah
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To: unixfox
I've never done it myself but I hear it works.

Yup, sure, right. ;o)

9 posted on 09/27/2002 4:50:55 PM PDT by Poohbah
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To: blam
And a tip to Freepers:
anything powered by separate and ugly plug-in power supply (I call 'em "wall warts") be advised that this transformer is always consuming electricity even if the device is switched off.
Aside from being a fire hazzard, they should be out-lawed for sheer lack of utility and ugliness.
10 posted on 09/27/2002 4:51:09 PM PDT by Minutemen
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To: blam
my vacuum cleaner sucks, really.


11 posted on 09/27/2002 4:51:20 PM PDT by steveo
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To: ErnBatavia
"Blam, did you weather the storm ok??"

Yup, thanks. I hadn't even gotten done picking up the limbs in yard from Hanna, now they're all over the place again. ...and Lili is coming?

12 posted on 09/27/2002 4:51:29 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Electrical appliances slurp up energy even when switched off in order to support features such as timers, clocks, memory and remote "on" and "off" switches, says Pierce. "Satellite receivers for televisions and VCRs, among other appliances, use almost as much electricity when they are switched off as when they are on," he points out.

Pierce, Darling, they are not off. They are powered down. That is why you have to reprogram them after a blackout.

a.cricket

13 posted on 09/27/2002 4:53:38 PM PDT by another cricket
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To: ErnBatavia
"This brought up a question for me....what's the wattage used for a home PC? I've heard in the area of 400 Watts."

Depends on what you have in the little beastie. The more drives (hard drives, CD/CD-R/CD-RW/DVD/CD-RW-DVD, whatever), cards; the faster the processor.......the size and type of monitor.........all play a part.

Check your manufacturer's Web site, and there's a good chance you can do a little research and add up the "wattage' on your system. I also strongly recommend a UPS/power conditioner unit (yes, the type with the large battery inside) for your main system.

14 posted on 09/27/2002 4:53:45 PM PDT by RightOnline
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To: A CA Guy
Shriek!
15 posted on 09/27/2002 5:09:08 PM PDT by JSteff
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To: blam
Old News, called phantom loads in the alternative energy market
16 posted on 09/27/2002 5:25:15 PM PDT by UB355
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To: another cricket
I hate wall warts too. One especially bad example is modern phones. A lot of them won't work without mains power. The old rotary phones, black, ugly and loud -- they do not need mains power to operate.
17 posted on 09/27/2002 5:44:14 PM PDT by Freedom4US
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To: blam
Good article. These devices are real money wasters.

Some of the numbers don't make sense to me though.

His studies estimate that these so-called "vampire" appliances cost consumers ... about $200 per household.

[standby power accounts] in the United States, 5 percent [of a home's total electricity bill].

That means an annual electric bill of $4000 or $333 a month. Is that really the average household electric bill?
18 posted on 09/27/2002 5:57:19 PM PDT by Looking for Diogenes
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To: blam
It's memory is full and it wants to download your viewing info?
19 posted on 09/27/2002 6:03:53 PM PDT by copycat
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To: copycat
"It's memory is full and it wants to download your viewing info?"

Now my damn TV is spying on me!

20 posted on 09/27/2002 6:07:37 PM PDT by blam
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To: unixfox
We haven't had our phone connected to the sat service for five years. We also get all the channels......damn test card foiled again.....
21 posted on 09/27/2002 6:07:43 PM PDT by OregonRancher
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To: blam
"Mark Pierce, a Cornell Cooperative Extension associate in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis (DEA) in Cornell's College of Human Ecology"

Just for everyone's information, "Human Ecology" used to be called "Home Economics". No fooling; it's the home-ec department at an Ivy-League school.

--Boris

22 posted on 09/27/2002 8:41:03 PM PDT by boris
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To: blam
"The standby power only costs $3/year when the monitor is shut down"

What kind of loser owns a monitor that can access power after the switch is off? I know my computer NOWadays keeps the PS charged, but it's on a separate power strip for that reason. The dam**d thing doesn't start right otherwise, what a POS!

Normally, for lightning hits I keep susceptible stuff unpowered where possible.

These clowns should look at the number of BOZOs who leave their PC's on AND connected to a live power strip when they leave work.

One article I read said we had to keep 40 power plants running overnight to power this stuff. Kinda hard to believe, I worked at one Nuke plant that could power all of the Philly system all by itself (before PC's).

This just reinforces my distrust of NY. I just don't think all those people have been pouring south over my entire lifetime because NYC or state is somewhere I wannabe.

23 posted on 09/27/2002 8:42:54 PM PDT by ReaganIsRight
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To: OregonRancher
"We haven't had our phone connected to the sat service for five years. We also get all the channels......damn test card foiled again....."

Ditto.

24 posted on 09/27/2002 8:55:12 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
Morning bump.
25 posted on 09/28/2002 5:46:14 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam
bumping for later
26 posted on 09/28/2002 5:49:15 AM PDT by tutstar
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To: blam
For many of us, this is not really a problem. My wind genrator kicks in when the vamppire drain exceeds 500 ma. I suppose that I am using up somebody's wind but it mitigates the vampire drain.
27 posted on 09/28/2002 5:58:32 AM PDT by bert
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To: blam
My satellite TV occassionally has a alert that comes onto the screen that says I should plug it into the telephone line. It wants to make phone calls too?

Absolutely. It calls an 800 number late at night to see if you've paid your bill. No joke.

28 posted on 09/28/2002 5:58:54 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets
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To: blam
an energy-thirsty TV can cost more than $10 a year

So it costs me less than 3¢ a day to be able to turn my TV on via remote control and hit a "guide" button to display the program schedule. (Owner's manual says it has be off a coupla hours a night to accumulate the schedule.) That's probably a lot cheaper and less energy consuming than printing up and distributing paper schedules. And if the perfesser is so het up about greenhouse gases, one new nuclear power plant will supply enough power run every stand-by appliance in the US.

29 posted on 09/28/2002 6:07:03 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets
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To: blam
"Vampire" Appliances -- They Suck Electricity Even When Switched Off

Wah, wah, wah. A typical missing-the-point "expert". The cost he refers to isn't some cost that's irrespective of the use of the appliances that designers have put in just to waste electricity and cost the consumer more money in power bills for nothing in return. The so-called "vampire" appliances continue to use electricity because that is part of having appliances that will start up immediately as soon as we are ready to use them. If the expert is so concerned about power use, then let him emulate those individuals down on lower Wacker who use very, very little electricity by wearing the same clothes for months and sleeping atop steam gratings. He may as well be talking about all the energy that is "wasted" because of having electrical appliances to begin with.
30 posted on 09/28/2002 6:20:30 AM PDT by aruanan
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To: RightOnline
On the other hand, using the author's method of power consumption (that's power, not energy), he forgets to mention that the same unused PC on standby now uses that excess power in the production of heat from the power supply. So those folks who live in cold climates now have reduced heating bills, swapping the heat source load to the standby devices.

When not in use, these devices do not consume that much power. At full use, they do generate a substantial amount of heat, about equivalent of another person in the room. Comparing various heat sources, the standby heat generating side-effects of these devices is less efficient than a home heating and ventilation system, so using the PC to cook on isn't recommended (unless one can attract as many flames as my posts do,....)

Typically, large monitors consume 3-5Amperes, PCs abut 1.2-1.7 Amps. Sundries another 1.5 Amps per device. RW-CDs etc are all powered from the switching power supply within the PC, so they've already been accounted in the tally.

Just got in a new toy,..a street light powered by photovoltaic cells on top, a small wind turbine on the bottom, both feeding a gell cell, then energizing a series of LED lamps to produce either white or amber light. Govt pricing per streetlight is around $1300, private indiv. unit cost about $1700. Payback of 8 yrs is reported by the manufacturer. Ideal for those interrogation rooms in Gitmo.

31 posted on 09/28/2002 6:22:01 AM PDT by Cvengr
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To: blam
I've always been impressed how electrical engineers and physicists will interpret Maxwell's Equations, Poynting vectors, and references to current and voltage sources in different fashions. Considering they are simultaneous equations and frequently nodal analyses with impedance values will dictate the actual flow of current throughout the system, the analogy to a vampire sucking blood might be countered with an unclotted pinprick.

Perhaps the largest enerey saver is to insure the monitor is off when not in use. Most "green devices" do save power, but I haven't well quantified the extent. IMHO, hitting the "On/OFF switch is better policy than "green design".

32 posted on 09/28/2002 6:30:29 AM PDT by Cvengr
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