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Your house is filled with vampires that suck $100s from your wallet annually

Lincoln Spector | May 8, 2015
Blame all those devices operating on standby mode even while they’re supposedly “off.” We’ll show you how to put a stake in their hearts.

My power consumption would probably be much worse if I had a DVR. These can be amongst the worst vampires around, often using almost as much power in standby mode as when they're on.

To make things worse, a DVR needs power 24/7 so it can wake up and start recording at scheduled times. Therefore, you can't plug one into a smart surge protector's Switched outlet.

That would be acceptable if they used a reasonable standby mode, but I've yet to test one that did. Back in 2010, I tested a Dish Network DVR and found that it sucked about 53 watts in standby mode. That's about about 38KWh a month with no recording or viewing. Last year I tested the Simple.TV, and while it proved more efficient than the older DVR, it still sucked 9- to 12 watts in standby mode. Consider that 7- to 8KWh a month.

Computers and peripherals
A modern computer has multiple states of being turned "off." Most of them are vampire modes.

Windows pc power

A battery-powered laptop will consume electricity even when powered down, if you leave its power adapter plugged in to keep its battery charged.

Windows has three options for shutting down and saving power. I tested all three on my main computer, a Lenovo ThinkPad X220 laptop.

Sleep mode shuts down the hard drive, the screen or screens, and various internal functions. But much of the hardware stays on so you can quickly return to where you were.

My laptop would burn about 67Wh if I left it in sleep mode for a month. That's reasonable.

Shut down ends the Windows session, then almost completely turns off the hardware. My Lenovo only burned 5Whm. That's pretty close to nothing.

Hibernate is a compromise between sleep mode and shut down. It turns off the hardware almost as completely as a shut down, but like sleep, it can return you to where you left off. My X220 burned about 16Whm-significantly more than shut down but still much better than sleep.

I usually keep this laptop plugged into a Lenovo UltraBase 3 docking station, which is plugged into the Belkin Conserve Smart AV surge protector. My external monitor, scanner, and speakers are plugged into the Belkin's switched sockets.

The meter told me that the surge protector burned 635Whm with everything plugged into it. Yes, that's way too high. Only the laptop, the docking station, and the surge protector should be pulling anything, and the three of them combined shouldn't be much more than 5Whm. The docking station, like the surge protector, pulls an inconsequential 0+ when empty, but it burned 363Whm with the X220 plugged into it. The rest came from the green surge protector anomaly discussed above.


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