Fighting Energy Vampires in Your Home

Speeding up the transition to clean, renewable energy is one of the best ways to curb the dangerous carbon pollution that causes climate change. Business and government leaders around the world are recognizing the power of energy efficiency to save money and fight climate change.

Energy efficiency is the art of getting the same or better performance using less energy—all while cutting utility bills for residential, business, and industrial customers. It has done more to meet our growing energy needs than oil, gas, and nuclear combined over the past 40 years, and energy efficiency contributions during that time have helped improve almost everything you use at home and at work.

Smarter energy use is also one of the world’s most powerful weapons for combating climate change and ensuring our air is safe to breathe because the cleanest energy source is the one you don’t burn in the first place.

Indeed, it’s hard to pin much of the blame on consumers, when the industry retains the power to make more efficient devices. And the government could also step up—for example, at virtually no cost to taxpayers and consumers, it could require appliance manufacturers to list the idle load consumption of devices on the label, or revise building codes to minimize the electricity consumption of furnaces, water heaters, garage doors, and even doorbells. Still—in addition to holding industry and government to account—there are several things you can do right now to fight energy vampires in your home.

Buy a power meter or have your utility provider install a smart meter

Knowledge is power—or, in this case, saves power. These cheap and simple gadgets can tell you how much energy a device is using when sitting idle, which gives you the option of changing your behavior. Alternatively, smart meters measure electricity consumption in small intervals and can tell you how much energy you’re using when everything appears to be turned off.

Ditch your old set-top box and DVR

You can stream programming directly via an app on your smart TV or through a low power–consuming streaming device like Apple TV or Roku stick instead. If you prefer to keep your set-top boxes and DVRs, call your cable, satellite, or telephone company and ask to update your setup with new IP-based equipment, which is more up-to-date and environmentally friendly.

Use timers

Plugging devices into timers will save you from having to remember to turn things on and off. This works particularly well with items you only use at specific times, like coffee makers or heated towel racks. Devices like computers have built-in timers that can power down the machine automatically. Use them aggressively.