Eliminating Vampire Power Costs

No, it’s not the title of the latest Twilight movie. It’s the reason we shell out billions of dollars without even realizing it. With the cost of oil and gas prices on the rise, everyone is looking for ways to save money. We are all switching to reusable grocery bags, energy-efficient appliances and hybrid vehicles. Yet we may not be aware of all the phantom electric costs we are accumulating at home.

Growing up we may have been told to switch off electronics when we aren’t using them, such as the TV, radio or video games…but is that really enough. These electric appliances, though turned off, still consume energy when they are in standby mode. This means if you can use a remote to turn it on, then it is still using electricity. While the individual costs may not amount to much, it will add up when you take into account how many things we have plugged in.

Below is a list of the annual average costs for many household gadgets that are turned off but still plugged in. These are averages and may differ depending on the device you have and local electricity costs. These costs are based on energy use statistics from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy using a price of 11 cents/kilowatt hour.

Home Entertainment

  • CRT TV: $1.00
  • LCD TV: $2.97
  • Plasma TV: $2.97
  • DVD: $1.53
  • VCR: $4.63
  • Digital cable box: $17.65
  • Satellite cable box: $15.50
  • DVR: $36.63
  • Digital cable box with DVR: $43.01
  • Set-top satellite box with DVR: $27.52
  • Video game console: $1.00
  • Portable stereo: $1.64
  • AM/FM tuner: $1.11
  • CD player: $4.99

Home Office

  • Desktop computer: $3.96
  • Laptop computer: $8.81
  • Laptop charger (unattached to laptop): $4.38
  • LCD monitor: $1.12
  • Printer: $1.98
  • Multifunction printer, scanner, copier: $5.21
  • Computer speakers: $1.98


  • Coffee maker: $1.12
  • Microwave oven: $3.05
  • Cordless phone: $1.98
  • Answering machine: $1.99
  • Power tool: $3.96
  • Handheld vacuum: $2.97
  • Electric toothbrush: $1.98
  • Cell phone charger (unattached to phone): $0.26

Costs also start adding up when electronics are left on when you’re not using them.

Here are some examples:

  • Desktop computer: $71.00
  • Video game console: $23.10
  • VCR: $7.69
  • DVD player: $7.46
  • CD player: $8.53

The biggest tip is to unplug appliances and electronics that are not needed. While some items like a refrigerator or freezer need to stay plugged in, switch to energy-efficient appliances to reduce their energy consumption.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative offers free home visits for members to help solve high electric bill mysteries that are difficult to resolve over the phone. They also offer energy-efficiency programs to help you find ways to reduce your monthly bills. Visit today’s tip on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/tabarealty for more information.

Erin Koshi (RA) is a Kauai real estate agent at Taba Realty & Development, LLC in Koloa. Taba Realty specializes in Kauai real estate, whether residential and commercial sales, residential and commercial property management, development services or consulting. You may contact Erin at erin@tabarealty.com.

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