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These 'energy vampires' could be sucking your wallet dry: 'As much as 20% of your monthly electricity bill'

Slaying these vampires could save American households $19 billion a year.

Energy vampires

Photo Credit: iStock

They may not want to suck your blood … but they want to suck your wallet dry.

They are so-called "energy vampires," appliances in your home that use energy when they're plugged in, even when they're not turned on. The garlic, stake to the heart, or silver bullet for these energy vampires is simple: Just unplug them.

What is an energy vampire?

We're not talking about the kind from What We Do in the Shadows. Duke Energy estimates that electrical energy vampires "can account for up to 20 percent of a customer's electric bill." Additionally, Michigan State University says that making a habit of unplugging energy vampires can "prevent any potential fires from overheated cords or appliances accidentally left on." 

Certain appliances — refrigerators, for instance — need to stay plugged in and turned on. But others — coffee makers, televisions, and many more — can easily be unplugged when not in use.

 Why are energy vampires important?

Aside from costing you money, energy vampires can be a real drain on the power grid. A 2015 study by the National Resources Defense Council found that energy vampires use as much as 50 large power plants worth of energy every year, or as much energy as all of the households in Alabama and Arizona combined. 

And that energy can be incredibly polluting. Despite recent gains in renewable energy, the U.S. power grid still draws more than 60% of its energy from burning dirty energy sources. With the world on track to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels within 10 years, the more oil, gas, and coal we can keep in the ground, the better.

How unplugging energy vampires can save money and the environment

According to the NRDC study, some simple unplugging can prevent 48.5 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution from entering the atmosphere every year. Not only that, but slaying energy vampires can save the average American household $165 annually, for a total of $19 billion nationwide. 

It's a simple step, but one that just about everyone can take.

Energy vampirism "may not seem like a big problem," University of Missouri housing and environmental design expert Michael Goldschmidt told The New York Times. But, Goldschmidt says, "it's a really big deal."

Of course, appliances aren't the only energy vampires out there. The term can apply to people as well. 

NBC News classifies human energy vampires as "friends, family members or coworkers who literally zap your emotional energy," like the kind made famous by What We Do in the Shadows. Obviously, we can't unplug those energy vampires, but that's all the more reason to take care of the ones we can.

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