Vampire energy

Vampire Energy is not a ghoulish Halloween prank but a serious loss of energy in all areas of the modern world.

What is it?  “Vampire Energy” or “Phantom Power” is energy that is consumed by an appliance that is not operating for use or is in a “stand-by” mode. Some examples of appliances at risk for this energy loss are computers, televisions, cable boxes, and cordless phones. The loss of energy per appliance isn’t much but when you compound it with the millions of appliances being used today the energy and dollar loss can be significant. Alan Meier of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that a typical home loses 50 watts to these appliance “vampires,” which accounts for approximately five percent of the total household energy bill or approximately one percent of the global CO2 emissions. Compare this to the airline industry, which produces three percent of the global CO2 emissions.

Are we alone? No. Countries worldwide are making efforts to reduce the impact. In 2000, Australia adopted a “one-watt” standard as a target for standby power, becoming the first nation to do so. In 2005, Korea adopted a standby warning label and Energy Efficiency Label and Standard Program for consumers with full implementation of the program to occur in 2010. Korea’s CO2 emission reduction target is 53 million ton by the year 2010.

How can we stop this energy loss? Currently, the greatest loss of power is attributed to power transformers and intentional leaks. Intentional leaks exist by design to keep appliances ready to turn on at a moment’s notice. Transformers cannot be turned off because the manufacturer finds it either more convenient or cost effective. However, technology currently exists that can reduce energy loss with a new type of power transformer that uses only one-tenth of the power of previous generations. “Smart Electronic Switches” that turn power off and on by demand also can help to reduce energy loss. Additionally, Energy Star-rated appliances and testers that display energy losses can help consumers determine if they should invest in a new appliance.

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