Vampire Power – and why you don’t want it standing by. - Climastar
Vampire power

Vampire Power – and why you don’t want it standing by.

In today’s world it is lurking everywhere – in almost every home, office, warehouse, factory, restaurant and even some churches. Sunlight is no threat to this monster, and both night and day and even during Twilight –  from dusk til’ dawn it is taking a bite out of your wallet and contributing to a worldwide problem.

This sneaky beast goes by many names… “Vampire Power”, “Phantom Power”, “Phantom Load”, “Ghost power”, or even the less sinister sounding “Standby Power”.

But there’s no need to start stocking up on stakes, garlic, crucifixes and holy water just yet (in fact it’s probably best you don’t use water at all!).

This sinister villain is one that can be stopped by just pulling the plug.

Know Thine Enemy.

Useful to know: the source of this fiend’s power is in fact electricity itself.

Vampire Power is the nickname for power that is used by appliances left either on standby, or that aren’t being used at all but are still drawing small amounts of electricity.

Small enough on their own of course to not cause too much alarm – but collectively the energy vampires are contributing to a worldwide, growing issue.

Going back to ancient legends – it was the fair maidens or the vulnerable that were attractors for the vampires. Yet in this day and age, the energy vampires go for more subtle means to stay alive.

Common attractors for Vampire Power are as follows:

 

  • Mobile and tablet chargers
  • Smart devices (e.g. Google Home & Alexa)
  • Electric toothbrushes
  • TV’s
  • Laptops
  • Games Consoles
  • Bluray / DVD Players
  • The fridge
  • The Vampire ice coffin (alright, alright … the freezer).

We’ve covered the potential financial pitfalls of Vampire power in a previous article – however, the above devices were shown to be the greatest energy guzzlers even when not being used. This graph by Greenmatch shows how these devices can hit you in the pocket.

Vampire Power - appliances using the most energy

 

Also, another set of data provided by Greenmatch shows the active and standby energy use of appliances:

active and standby energy use of common appliances Vampire Power

Yet, do not be faint of heart. This is a problem affecting everyone: as it’s often said “we’re all in the same boat”. However, in the case of the common phrase – the problem shared in this case isn’t the problem halved.

 

A World on Standby

 

It may seem pretty crazy out there with the economy, the geopolitical climate, and general social uncertainty – many of us are effectively on “standby” and poised to react to the latest challenge affecting us as a world.

However, being on standby is often the root of the problem.

Let’s look at a “powerful” nation for example – the United States. In the average US home over a quarter of electricity consumption is being drained while electronic products are off.

(Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/24/technology/personaltech/24pogue-email.html)

With such a focus on being green and looking at energy consumption and its alleged relation to climate change, we have to wonder if electronics designers, manufacturers, and retailers have caught the memo.

This article by Statista outlines the growth of the electronics industry on a global scale, and outlines the following points:

 

  • Between 2020 and 2022 it was estimated there was a 6% growth in the electronics industry. Granted this isn’t all production of electronic products that are on standby, however, consumer electronics and household appliances are part of that figure.
  • These amounts were at a time during a shortage globally of computer chips – so it can be reasonably assumed that without this shortage production of electronics could have been much higher.

 

With a combination of mass production of new devices, alongside devices having a shorter operational life and a disposable product market – we’ve got to wonder if they’re in cahoots to keep the vampire power (and some loosely affiliated friends and colleagues in the energy industry) fed.

Also, profit margins for the electronics industries (despite challenges) aren’t really suffering. This article from macrotrends, shows us from 2020 – 2023 that profits are still being made (around 2.3% net, 8.8% gross).

When we put that into comparison with the energy companies themselves (who wouldn’t really do well without a thriving world full of electronics) we also see the following:

This article by The Guardian reports record profits for energy companies in recent years – despite there being mass claims in the media about an “Energy Crisis”.

£3.3bn profit for Centrica in 2022. Shareholders getting dividends of £200 million.

£32bn profit for Shell in 2022.

£23bn profit for BP.

 

You might be asking as we are – is it responsible to be making such levels of profit at a time of crisis? If there is such a crisis, it doesn’t look like there’s one for the energy companies themselves or their shareholders. As the old adage goes – where there is a crisis there is opportunity.

crisis vs opportunity in Vampire Power

At this point we’ve got to ask – Who is the real Vampire in Vampire Power here? Is the problem going to get worse?

According to the University of California (Berkeley) the United States consumers over a quarter of the world’s total energy – and around 5% of that is by devices on standby falling victim to “Vampire Power”.

Put into perspective, that energy being sucked up by Vampire Power is up to 400 Terrawatt Hours (tWh) – or roughly put; the entire energy consumption of Italy per year. That’s a lot of power.

With the world demand for electricity as a power source continually growing – all of this electricity consumption and power generation takes a heavy toll on our resources. Coal power plants produce CO2 as an output (which is great news for trees who breathe in CO2) but is thought to be a leading cause for climate change.

Oil isn’t much better, and fluctuations in the oil market due to supply & demand, and again more geopolitical scenarios is having a knock-on effect on the petrodollar’s performance.

Nuclear power – although considered cleaner again meets criticism in a political sense, and utilises a heavy amount of the water supply. Uranium also isn’t exactly cheap to obtain either, and so the cycle continues.

We have renewable energy sources, sure. The advent of solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal power help to create alternative, sustainable, greener sources. And while that may be something to be proud of – the electrical output for these sources isn’t considered ideal for current demand – and the limited electrical storage of electricity is another obstacle towards this. Also, the production of electrical storage also has an environmental impact and concern.

It takes a lot of energy in fuel to dig for the materials to create storage for electricity, making green energy sources less than green in the efforts taken getting there.

Humanity at present seems to exert an enormous amount of effort in finding ways to create and store energy, expending energy in the process – and in the background, we waste so much more energy just by leaving devices plugged in, unused and still contributing to our electricity consumption.

Energy companies claim it’s an energy crisis, but don’t complain too much about their profit margins. Electronics is still a growing industry.

Vampire power isn’t a new thing.

You read that correctly. Vampire power started in the late 1960’s with an unhealthy relationship with television. Not only were the airwaves flooded with hammer horror Dracula films et al– but TV’s even back then were still drawing unnecessary power.

Consumers noted that switching on the TV back then took some time – as the construction of their TV sets meant the TV needed some time to “warm up”. Designers, therefore, took up the mantle to find ways of making the TV set quicker to switch on and enjoy. That, and TV stations needed ratings to stay afloat, and consequently, manufacturers and retailers needed to sell more TV sets to keep going…

via GIPHY

A design solution of the time was to have modular parts of the TV set that were always on – and therefore the beginning of vampire power. Due to supply and demand, and better economic conditions the cost of electricity was much cheaper and not really a concern for drawing small amounts of power for a better TV experience.

Even if the budgets for TV shows, and the acting back then was questionable – TV became a home staple as the centre of entertainment…

…. and a source of sustenance for the birth of Vampire Power.

Fighting back against Vampire Power

With what we’ve discussed so far in this article, it would make sense for you to ask exactly who the real enemy is.

  • Is it the vampire power by leaving appliances on standby?
  • Is it the energy companies and their massive profits?
  • Or is it the electronics industry producing these devices in the first place that are, by and large, designed to sit on standby?

 

In truth, it could really be all parties concerned akin to some majorly creepy Vampire cabal that’s costing you money and wanting you to constantly continue purchasing.

via Gfycat

Yet, tin foil hats aside, they are all part of a chain of events that you, the consumer are in complete control of. This starts at point of sale.

Whether that’s the sale of the device, the sale of the energy you buy, or the energy you’re continually purchasing by leaving devices on standby. Modern conveniences that make our life easier are great – but how many of us ask if we really need the latest gadget before we buy?

Exercise caution however; you may meet resistance when evaluating your spending with other parties. The waters often become muddied between the need and the want. Has the Vampire got them under its spell too?

Ask yourself: Do you really need to buy an omelette maker, steak cooking machine, sandwich toaster, egg poacher, etc. when you have a pan that will do the same job?

Sure, it’s a little more effort in some cases – but you’ll have saved the cost of the appliance, and the resulting power usage. Plus, many gadgets have a tendency to be used until the novelty wears off, and then sit at the back of a cupboard somewhere until found much later on.

 

Personal anecdote: I once had a housemate that hated doing anything that involved any kind of effort. In a bid to have a healthier lifestyle (and after engaging with some compelling marketing on social media) he bought an omelette maker for those healthy eggy breakfasts.

I mentioned that we had a decent frying pan and was probably an empty investment going for the gadget but (as you may have guessed) I was immediately the bad guy.

He used the omelette maker no more than twice before it sat on the kitchen counter for several months – and was further relegated to the oubliette of the unused, in a far forgotten corner of a cupboard.

“It only cost me 20 quid” was the rationale for both its purchase, and its lack of use. I was daring enough to mention it therefore cost him £10 per omelette.

Somehow, I was the bad guy again.  (By the way, he was also terrible for leaving appliances on / plugged in etc. when not being used but would often lecture me about the electricity bill).

 

Of course the above example may or may not be resonant with you – but you can see the perspective here how it’s easy to abandon critical thinking when you have convinced yourself that you need something – but it’s really more of a want than a need.

The following video from the film Fearless (1923) helps to highlight cultural perspectives at the time when electrical appliances were first introduced.

In a roundabout way we’re asking – with all of the devices plugged in that you do have (and convinced yourself that you can’t do without)  that are drawing power – do you really NEED them to be plugged in and on standby?

Can you use them later just as well by having to switch them on?

Imagine the money you could save. It would be a definite weight off your mind.

Make a battle plan against Vampire Power

First, begin by figuring out which devices are plugged in and consuming power.

A general rule of thumb is if it’s a charger or transformer of some kind and is warm to the touch even when the device it’s connected to is not in use – it’s drawing power.

A general hit list for these includes devices such as:

  • Mobile and tablet chargers
  • Smart devices (e.g. Google Home & Alexa)
  • Electric toothbrushes
  • TV’s
  • Laptops
  • Games Consoles
  • Bluray / DVD Players

 

You don’t necessarily have to remove them from the wall socket – just switching off the socket can stop the flow of power.

Surge protectors can also be useful in stemming the flow of un-necessary power.

With devices like the fridge and the freezer, a certain amount of Vampire power is unavoidable (otherwise our foodstuffs would spoil).

Looking at the heavier hitters

When looking at your energy consumption and general energy waste, it will only be a matter of time before your attention is turned to higher energy use appliances such as the washing machine, tumble dryer, and other things such as electric heaters or electric radiators.

The only real two solutions here are to either:

  • Reduce the amount of use for these appliances, and / or;
  • Reinvest in more energy efficient appliances that won’t necessarily waste as much energy, and will help you to future-proof and make savings on your electricity consumption.

 

Vampire-proofing and future-proofing your home with Climastar products

We focus on all-electric solutions to meet your heating and hot water needs that are both environmentally friendly, and reach toward reducing energy consumption.

The harmony range of efficient electric radiators (thankfully) doesn’t subscribe to the ideal of Vampire power. Instead, with the use of TRIAC technology and the Harmony Heating Cruise Control – only the power needed to heat the room is used – and even the rate of power drawn varies, to cut down on your energy consumption if only small amounts of power are needed.

When not in use, the harmony range of unique electric radiators doesn’t draw any power, until the thermostat instructs it to heat up. We feel they’re the best electric radiators for both looks, and for energy saving.

With our thermal heat storage batteries for hot water – these devices only charge when their energy stores are depleted. You can even make use of an immersion timer to utilise different rates of electricity at certain times to make even further savings, if that suits your needs better. If utilised with a system boiler it is also possible in some situations to give yourself free hot water when you’re using your heating.

Our range of energy-efficient boilers utilise power modulation technology (in a similar way to the harmony range) so that they only draw the power needed to heat for your radiator or hot water needs.

Lastly, with our friends at Biow – you can clean the quality of your air, remove harmful particulates, and provide a refreshing ionisation chamber to further enhance your home climate.

Looking for a price list?

Sadly we can’t provide a Climastar price list or a ball park figure. In order to find out what Climastar UK heating can do for you, we offer a no-obligation free home heating survey.

You can arrange an appointment with our expert heating consultants to work out what’s best for you and your electric heating and electric hot water needs, and provide a quote based on the survey.

free home heating survey for electric radiators

Click the button below to request a free home survey – and keep the Vampire out for good.

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