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Examiner
  • Lynn Youngblood: Unplug a little, save a little

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  • The night of the walking dead is in a couple of weeks, the playground for ghouls, goblins, witches, and a heyday for vampires! Did you know that you may have vampires with you every day of the year? Vampires that suck your juice daily – electrical juice that is?
    Electrical vampires come in all shapes, sizes, colors and varieties. Most common are cell phone charger vampires. They suck energy whether a device is disengaged or fully charged. According to www.energy.gov, a vacant charger that is still plugged in will suck 0.26 watts, while one a fully charged device will continue to suck 2.24 watts. These and other small “plug-in” device vampires can actually add 10% to your electric bill.
    You might be housing some really large vampires, too. How about a cable television box, DVR or HDTV device? Never turning off your cable box will add almost $18 a year to your bill. Add the DVR to that cable box, and you have now more than doubled your vampires to $44.
    Other electrical vampires come in the form of electrical units that are used, but not usually turned off when not in use. How often do you leave your computer on and just let it go to sleep, or leave it on and turn off the monitor? What about the kid’s video game complex? Now that’s a big vampire!
    Most of us have about 25 vampires within our household. So how can you deal with these spark-suckers? You may feel like running around unplugging everything, but that may not be practical because unplugging microwaves and alarm clocks means that you have to reset them every time you want to use them.
    The best option is to cluster similarly used devices and plug several into a power strip. When you are not using them, shut down all of that sucking with one flip of a switch. Actually shutting down your computer, saving that game on the kid’s video device and turning them off rather than leaving them idle can save you more than $100 a year.
    If you are ready to replace your old computer or appliance, do not give it away or sell it. Bring it in to the local recycling center instead of passing along a big vampire or other energy sucker. Then be sure to get an Energy Star-rated item for replacement. (Check out www.Energystar.gov for information on rebates or tax credits.)
    Even Energy Star items cannot make your electric bill become a ghost of the past, but at least you will not be bringing another monster into the house. With a few carefully planned steps, you can make your house an unwelcome place for spark-sucking vampires to live.
    Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association, residential energy client service coordinator and former nature center manager.
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