Vampire Energy 101: What It Means and 3 Ways to Reduce It

Vampire Energy

Vampire Energy Definition

Energy that electronic devices pull from the grid when they are plugged in unnecessarily (either because they are turned off or aren't in use). Vampire energy increases your electricity bill and puts unnecessary stress on the environment.

Check out the infographic below from Payless Power.

Vampire Energy

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Vampire Energy's Impact

1. Environmental

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the amount of energy wasted from vampire energy each year in the United States (“U.S.”) is equivalent to that of 50 large power plants. Vampire energy unnecessarily hurts the environment by creating additional pollution and putting extra strain on the power grid.

2. Financial

Vampire energy costs money. Households that leave electronic devices plugged in unnecessarily are paying for that unused energy. It is estimated by the  Natural Resources Defense Council that U.S. households could save $8 billion dollars every year by reducing vampire energy.  

The infographic below summarizes the impact.

Vampire Energy

3 Ways to Reduce Vampire Energy

1. Use Technology to Turn Off Devices

Homes, businesses and offices can automate energy savings by using smart plugs. Smart plugs allow you to control your devices from anywhere using an app on your smart phone.

Smart Plugs
Smart Plugs


The set up is easy. Simply insert the smart plug into your outlet and plug your devices in. Then use wifi to connect the smart plug to an app. This allows you to control all of your devices from your phone! Alternatively, you could use a smart hub to such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Microsoft Cortana to control your devices. Fortunately, smart hubs aren't required, the plugs work just as well with wifi and an app.

Smart Plug Benefits

Ready to save time and money with smart plugs?

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2. Invest in Energy Efficient Devices and Appliances

Energy efficient devices and appliances work to conserve energy all the time without human involvement. As a result, vampire energy is reduced without having to think about it. 

For example, the Nest Thermostat is a device that a lot of people have had success with. Notably, Nest Thermostats program themselves to save energy according to a household's specific needs. They learn the temperatures you like and create a schedule that saves electricity and money. According to Nest, independent studies have proven that the Nest Learning Thermostat saved an average of 10% to 12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills. 

Energy Efficient Devices

The Nest Thermostat is just one example. Adding any energy efficient device can help reduce vampire energy. It can be helpful to look for devices that are "Energy Star" Certified. 

3. Manually Unplug Devices and Turn Off Lights By Creating Habits

The most straightforward method to reduce vampire energy, that doesn't involve technology, is to remember to unplug your devices and turn off lights when they aren’t in use. However, it is important to make this action a habit or else it will be too difficult to remember in your daily life. This means that you unplug a device or turn off a light after receiving a specific cue.

  1. For instance, as soon as you see the full battery on your phone, laptop or tablet – let that be your cue to remove the charger from the outlet so that it isn’t drawing energy.
  2. Or if you leave a room that isn’t occupied, let walking through the doorway be your cue to flip the light switch off.
  3. Or perhaps when your coffee is finished, let that be the cue to reach behind the coffee machine and unplug it.

Implementing Habit Loops 

When you consistently do that several times you will create what is called a “Habit Loop”. A Habit Loop means that you (1) receive a cue, (2) complete a specific routine and (3) experience a reward. An example from the book called "The Power of Habit" is below. 

When do you brush your teeth and why? Most people brush their teeth in the morning and at night without even thinking about it. A certain cue, such as finishing a meal or getting ready to leave the house for the day, prompts them to brush their teeth. The reward is a minty fresh and clean sensation along with good dental health.

Habit Loop Example - Brushing Your Teeth

Habit Loop

The same habit loop can be created and used to reduce vampire energy. 

Vampire Energy

Seeing a full battery on your electronic device (e.g., phone, tablet or any other electronic device) prompts you to remove the charger from the outlet. After a while you should start seeing a lower energy bill which saves you money. The results and rewards are usually more apparent when this is implemented for larger electronic devices. 

It is important to remember that these habit loops might look different for each household. Each household can review their energy use and implement habit loops that are best for them.

Learn all about Habit Loops and more by reading the best-selling book "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg. 

Reducing vampire energy is an easy for way for people to help the environment and save money at the same time.

Interested In Learning More?

You might also like the post "5 Easy Tips to Help Keep the Environment Clean".

We wish you the best on your sustainability journey. 

About the Author Staff Writer

Our writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.

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1 comment
Jack says September 24, 2019

sustainablebusinesstoolkit is literally the BEST blog anywhere. I read it every day.

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