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News > Wanted: Energy Vampire Exterminators
Wanted: Energy Vampire Slayers

Posted 10/28/2010   Updated 10/28/2010 Email story   Print story


by Robin Liggett
354th Civil Engineering Squadron

10/28/2010 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- There is no better time than October -- Energy Awareness Month -- to talk about vampires. We all have "energy vampires" lurking throughout our homes and offices, and there is never a bad time to pull the plug on these phantom culprits.

An energy vampire, or a phantom load, is the energy draw by appliances or accessories that continues even when turned off or disconnected. The following is a list of easy steps anyone can take at work and home to kill energy vampires once and for all:

· Use daylight instead of electric light when possible. When artificial lighting is necessary, opt for compact fluorescent light bulbs. CFLs use 75 percent less energy, emit 75 percent less heat, and last 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. Even with all that saved energy, they should still be turned off anytime the room will be unoccupied for more than a few minutes. Too forgetful? Consider installing motion sensors to automatically conserve energy.

· Unplug electric cell phone chargers, game stations, coffee makers, desktop printers, radios, etc when they are not in use. Rather than unplugging each individual cord, consider using a power strip for three items and turning everything off with just one switch.

· Only use appliances when there is  a full load and avoid using hot water unless necessary. No matter what is the quantity of dirty clothes, a washing machine uses 32 gallons of water per use. Dishwashers will use 12 gallons of hot water no matter how many plates and bowls are loaded inside so fill it up. The 'heat dry' setting is a secret code for energy vampires -- turn it off!  Let your dishes air dry.

· Heating accounts for 30 percent of a home's winter energy bill. Keep the thermostat set to 68 degrees Fahrenheit when at home and drop it down to a recommended 55 when not at home. Making sure there are clean or new filters in the furnace/heat pump and ensuring floor and wall vents are not blocked will improve air flow efficiency. Avoid space heaters, which are deceitful energy vampires. If a home or office is drafty, then seal the air leaks by caulking windows and securing weather strips around doors. Keep garage doors and exterior doors closed during winter months. Open curtains during winter days to allow natural sunshine to warm a room, and close curtains at night to keep in the heat.

· There's a common misconception about computers and power. Screen savers do not reduce energy consumption; sleep mode is the more conservative choice. If you're going to be away from your computer for twenty minutes, you may manually turn off the monitor to save the screen and energy. You should power down computers anytime you are away from your desk for more than 2 hours. Check out all the energy efficient office equipment when looking at a future purchase. An Energy Star laptop uses 70 percent less electricity (be sure to activate the power management feature) than a heavyweight desktop PC.

· Modify the thermostat of your water heater (to 120 degrees F) to save energy and avoid accidental scalding. The quantity of water counts, too. The average shower can consume 20 gallons of water. Installing a low-flow showerhead will reduce water waste. Dripping water isn't just annoying, it can waste gallons of water in a very short period of time -- so repair leaky faucets immediately.

Leaner installations, cleaner sources, and smarter decisions will help everyone exterminate energy vampires at work and home.

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