The other morning I awoke from my slumber like any other morning. I had a big stretch, got out of bed, gave Bailey his "good morning" kiss and made my way through the barely lit living room trying not to trip on one of the many stuffed dog toys lying on the ground.
I found my way to the fridge, took a swig of water and then continued on, making my way to the bathroom.
But something stopped me. Suddenly, I was startled awake.
Not by the alarm clock, but by the coffee pot being plugged in.
An energy vampire.
It had somehow been invited in.
In its sexy, caffeinated way, it was sucking up power.
I acted quickly. There was no time to waste. I reached for the stake, but it was still thawing (OK, I meant "steak").
I did the next best thing - I pulled the plug.
The vampire died, but will surely leave its bite marks on the US power grid.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the plugged-in appliances that we take for granted use up 5-10% of the residential energy supply. The average American has 10-50 of these appliances plugged in, jacking up their electric bills.
When I first started going green, I ran around my apartment like a crazy woman unplugging everything in sight. Hair dryers, clocks, phone chargers. We are very careful to unplug when we're not using the appliance.
Unfortunately, there are some things that seem impossible to unplug every time. Like the TV, cable box and our main computer. Unplugging them is an effort because it takes time to reboot your cable box and it also prevents the DVR from taping those all important episodes of The Bachelor. And simply turning them off is not enough. They're still leeching power.
So what to do?
Don't worry! You won't have to string garlic or douse your house with holy water. There are other solutions.
One way is to look for energy efficient Energy Star* electronics when you're replacing your old ones. (And don't forget to take the old ones to an electronics recycling event in your area.)
Another way is to get smarter power strips. I like the BITS Smart Strip Power Strip. You can get it with either 7 or 10 outlets. It has regular outlets for appliances that have to be on all the time, but other sensors that will turn off things when they haven't been in use.
So what are you waiting for? Bill (coffee pot), Damian (cable box) and Edward (chargers) may glamour you into the ease of keeping them plugged in, but at the end of the day, their survival depends on your blood. (I mean, energy.)
*As of January, 2011, the GOP wants the Energy Star program (among other "green" initiatives) cut as part of their "slash government spending" promise. Let's hope this does not pass. I will keep you posted.