Prevent Vampire Energy from Haunting Homes and Power Bills

Unplugging electronic devices can lower monthly energy costs

As local neighborhoods fill up with ghosts, skeletons, witches and other frighteningly fun Halloween decorations, Starkville Utilities is warning customers about real vampires that may be wreaking havoc on monthly power bills.

Vampire energy, also known as phantom power or standby power, is electricity wasted by devices that are plugged in but not in use. But customers won’t need wooden stakes or garlic to deal with these energy-sucking vampires—simply unplugging their power supply finishes them off instantly.

“Helping customers lower utility costs by making their homes more energy efficient is a commitment that adds value to the services we provide,” said Edward Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “The more customers know about energy use, the better they can manage energy costs by learning do-it-yourself tips that can add up to real savings.”

Even though most products draw small amounts of standby power (less than 0.5 watts), their aggregate impact on bills can be scary. Vampire energy can account for as much as 10% of residential electricity usage, according to the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Virtually all new electrical devices and appliances, including TVs, microwave ovens and air conditioners, draw power 24 hours a day. That’s because they feature external power supplies, internal batteries, remote controls, and continuous displays (e.g., LED), and many require a constant network connection.

The DOE suggests these strategies to ward off energy vampires:

  • Unplug infrequently used devices and appliances. The older they are, the higher the savings may be.
  • Use a switchable power strip for clusters of computer or video products; this will allow you to switch everything to zero with one action.
  • When shopping, search for low standby products, keeping in mind that ENERGY STAR products have lower standby.
  • Buy a low-cost watt-meter to measure your devices. You may be surprised at what you discover, and by taking action, you could recoup the cost of the meter in energy savings.

What do energy vampires look like? The DOE’s list of potential “unpluggables” includes these devices and appliances:

  • Empty battery chargers
  • Power supplies for e-bikes and golf carts during off-season
  • Audio equipment that is rarely used, including amplifiers, boom boxes, shelf-top audio systems and DVD players
  • Kitchen appliances used infrequently, e.g., rice cookers, Instapots, bread-makers
  • Office equipment rarely used, e.g., scanners, shredders, fax machines, older printers
  • Garden tools during off-season, e.g., lawnmowers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers
  • The unused TV in the guest room, along with associated set-top box and sound bar
  • Any device powered with a remote control or an illuminated digital display that you no longer use
  • Seasonal heating and cooling equipment, e.g., room air conditioners, portable humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air filters
  • Network hubs and components that are no longer connected to anything

See a full list of vampires and other helpful tips at

Starkville Utilities is a municipally owned and operated electric and water utility, serving more than 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville as well as the state’s largest institution of higher learning, Mississippi State University.

We are a Water and Electric Utilities Company in Starkville