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Tag: power vampires

Power Vamping

Posted by Matthew Greensmith at 9:02 AM on May 21, 2008

The other night, I was rudely awakened by the phone ringing. Being a mother and also a light sleeper and chronic insomniac, I heard the phone when no one else did, and got up to answer it. Three clocks in the bedroom glowed red with the current time, 1:38 a.m.

There is no phone in the bedroom, which is supposed to make me not get up and answer it, but we do have a family member seriously ill right now, so I got up to answer the phone. Of course, by the time I got there, the call had gone to voice mail and the caller ID indicated it was some sort of “blocked call.” So I needn’t have gotten up in the first place.

But as I stood in my kitchen contemplating a return to bed, it occurred to me that there was an awful lot of light in the kitchen, dining room, and living room, which are all one big space in our house. The digital clock on the oven was glowing green, and the cordless phone was showing that it was charging and there was a blue glow from the face of the caller ID on the phone. In the living room, the DirecTV DVR box had an orange dot, blue dot, and green dot glowing, the combo VCR/DVD-R above it was flashing its pointless “midnight” clock (we can’t figure out how to set the darned thing), the digital clock on the top of the entertainment center was showing the current time in a red glow, the cordless phone was showing it was charging and had a nice blue glow from the face of the caller ID. My RCA stereo was in “standby” mode and glowing blue on its display face, as well as a brighter blue on the on/off button. On the floor, three power strips with red “on” buttons glowed. In the dining room, my laptop had two blue lights shining from its face (“on” and “charged”), and the Vista machine with the cinema display had its own series of little glowing lights.

I’m sure if I had bothered to walk to the office, where the rest of the computers, router, modem, printer, and etc. are, I’d find more power vampires. And in the laundry room I’d have found my iron with a small red light glowing, the light stays on even when the unit is turned off. In the garage would be the indicator lights on the garage door opener panel, the charging lights on the Ryobi power tools and the battery-powered vacuum cleaner that stays plugged in to charge, along with the standby lights on the stereo that sits out there.

There are power vampires all over the house. I have to wonder how much this is costing us, in the course of a year. I know my Vista computer is a hog, and I try to remember to shut it down at night. The laptop I leave on 24/7, as well as my husband’s computer, each of the kids’ computers, and the file/print server. The modem and router stay active 24/7 as well. The DirecTV DVR needs to stay on all the time in order to record shows and get its software and firmware upgrades that are pushed in the middle of the night. But the rest…I wonder how much I can turn off? And if I’m diligent about it, how much money will we save?

It is probably worth looking at, as utility costs continue to rise and our family is feeling the squeeze.