The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Vampire energy

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, October 30, 2008

Think vampires are scary? Try your phone charger.

The leaves are falling, the temperature is (drastically) dropping, and everyone is excited for the frightening Halloween fun that will commence this weekend. However, there’s one thing that isn’t falling – our energy bill. In light of Halloween, we’d like to take this time to talk about one of the scariest things of all to your wallet: vampire electricity.

Yes, that is really what it’s called. Creepy, right? Vampire electricity refers to electricity used by appliances and electronics when they are turned off. You may not know it, but your TV, DVD player, microwave, toaster, clock radio, laptop and yes, your phone charger, all consume small amounts of energy even when you are not using them. The reason for this is that most modern electronics go into standby (zombie) mode when you hit the off switch – they never actually turn off. These small amounts of energy add up to a pretty spooktacular sum over time, and cost consumers a lot more money than they realize.

The Department of Energy estimates that five percent of U.S. electricity is wasted by vampire electronics every year, and that figure could increase to 20 percent by 2010. Vampire electricity is estimated at about 25 watts per household, which, when multiplied by 110 million households, gives the ghastly figure of $2.7 billion per year that Americans are spending on this alone. That’s enough to buy nine and a half million cauldrons worth of Hershey’s Kisses. Moreover, it puts more strain on a horrifically overloaded power grid.

So what can you do to stop those ghoulish electronics that are haunting your house, sucking electricity, and therefore money, out of you? Unplug. You don’t need to have your cell phone charger plugged in when your phone is not attached to it. Same goes for the TV or the toaster. The convenience factor may be lost, but you’ll gain a lot more in terms of money and energy saved.

(Katie Woodward & William Staruk are juniors at Notre Dame who attended the CSC’s Energy Policy Seminar in Washington D.C. They are not going as trees or tree huggers for Halloween.)

Katie Woodward

William Staruk


Oct. 29