What are plug loads and vampire loads?

Plug loads refer to the electricity that is consumed by devices that are plugged into a standard 110V outlet. This includes cable boxes, TVs, game consoles, power tool chargers, speaker systems, radios, desktop computers, monitors, laptop chargers, phone chargers, coffee makers, blenders, toasters, clocks, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, straighteners, treadmills, electric instruments, printers, etc. 

In the US, plug loads are usually about 30% of a household’s electricity bill (about $420 per year). At least that’s what the pre-COVID data shows – this amount is probably much higher now with everyone spending more time at home!

Vampire loads are a subset of plug loads; they refer to the amount of electricity a device consumes when it’s not in use. Under normal circumstances, vampire loads account for about 13% of a typical household’s electric bill, so almost $200 of the $420 plug load expense. That’s almost 2-months’ worth of electricity bills just to power devices that you don’t use!

Viewing this from a national scale, there are just under 132 million households in the US, so that means as a country, we spend over $26 billion on electricity we don’t even use every single year. If that isn’t bad enough, according to the World Bank, $26 billion is larger than the GDP of 105 countries.

household items

Source: https://www.saveonenergy.com/learning-center/mapping-vampire-energy/

How do we reduce the expenses of plug loads?

Reduce Quantity of Devices

The simplest way to reduce your electricity bill is to use electricity-powered devices less. You can either get rid of or put away devices that you don’t frequently use. Less device time can free up more time to read or exercise!

Purchase Energy Star Devices

If you’re looking to purchase a new TV or laptop, be sure to look for Energy Star devices! You can use the Energy Star Product Finder to help you identify devices with low operating expenses. In general, LED screens are the most efficient. If you use the TV a lot, it is worth it to pay more for an efficient TV, because you will save on electricity costs in the long run!

Adjust Device Settings

Make sure you are using your devices at the lowest power level possible, while still operating within safe limits. For example, you can reduce the brightness level of a TV by half to save almost 30% of operating costs, but make sure that the brightness level is still sufficient enough so it doesn’t hurt your eyes. Similarly, you can adjust the brightness levels on your phones and laptops, exit out of apps that aren’t being used, and set the devices to Low Power Mode.

How do we reduce the expenses of vampire loads?


The cheapest option to recover the $200 that is wasted every year on vampire loads is simply to unplug your devices when they are not in use. It’s that easy! But it’s also easy to forget to do this every time you finish using a device, and some devices might be plugged into hard-to-reach outlets that would be a pain to frequently unplug.

Power Strips

So this is where power strips become useful! If you purchase a few power strips that have appropriate cord lengths so that you can easily access them, managing plug loads becomes much easier! For all devices that are plugged into the power strip, the vampire loads are prevented when the power strip is switched off – now you just have to remember to flip off the power strip when you aren’t using any devices!

If you frequently forget to turn the power strip off on your own, smart power strips are the way to go. Smart power strip technology uses timers, remote control from your phones, or occupancy sensors to turn the power strips on and off. 

Smart Charging and Sleep Mode

Another simple strategy that can reduce your electric bill and extend battery life for phones, laptops, and power tools is to charge your devices only when they need to be charged. Once your device reaches full charge, unplug it! If the device is still plugged in after it’s fully charged, it will continue to draw electricity from the outlet. It’s also good to turn computers off (instead of leaving them on sleep mode) if you don’t plan to use the computer for a while.

Disclaimer: Please consult with a professional before making any upgrades to electrical work or electricity-consuming devices within your home. It All Adds Up and its affiliates are not responsible for any household damage or personal injuries that should occur from following any suggestions from It All Adds Up.


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