We live in an increasingly connected, always-on world. Our phones talk to our fridges and our washing machines email us. Yet all this connectivity is coming at a huge cost, thanks to the hidden power consumption used by always-on devices. The power drain caused by these appliances, dubbed ‘Vampire Appliances’ by a new study, is truly staggering.

In a new study, issued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the environmental group estimates that the collective cost comes it at over $19 billion worth of electricity annually. Put in perspective, the amount of electricity is equal to the output of 50 large power-plants.

The NRDC says this “vampire energy drain” provides little benefit to consumers but costs the average American household somewhere between $165 to $440 per household.

Pierre Delorge, the report’s author and NRDC’s director says that “one reason for such high idle energy levels is that many previously purely mechanical devices have gone digital: Appliances like washers, dryers, and fridges now have displays, electronic controls, and increasingly even Internet connectivity, for example. In many cases, they are using far more electricity than necessary.”

The report goes on to illustrate that ‘vampire energy drain’ is actually a low hanging fruit of energy waste that is easily preventable by consumers changing default settings on connected devices or putting them on timers that physically disconnect the power at times they aren’t being used.

The ten worst offenders?

Water recirculation pumps
Desktop computers
Cable set-top boxes
Audio receivers
Coffee makers
Ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets.

So don’t get lulled into false beliefs of energy savings by ‘sleep mode’, ‘standby mode’ and other such jargon – those sleepy devices may not be as sleepy as they seem.

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