Skip to main content
Three steps to eliminate energy vampires lurking in your home

You may not have even realized that energy vampires lurk amidst the playful ghosts and goblins, but they’re there. Energy vampires are appliances that even when turned off use a small amount of electricity. They’re called phantom loads. 

On average, these phantom loads, also known as standby power, might be draining energy in your home, resulting in an unnecessary spike on your bill. How’s that for a trick rather than a treat? 

But don’t worry, with three simple steps you can turn energy vampires into a Casper the Friendly Ghost, and start saving money and energy in no time. 


Step 1: Identify the vampires

The first step to defeating phantom loads is identifying the energy vampires. An average home has 20 to 40 energy vampires lurking. Some common offenders are appliances and devices designed to be plugged in continuously in order to maintain settings.

Six common energy vampires you likely have in your home:

1. Cell phone and tablet chargers: Chargers plugged in to outlets continue using energy, even when they aren’t charging your device.
2. Kitchen appliances: Toaster ovens, coffee makers and microwaves each suck up energy when not in use.
3. Cable or satellite TV boxes: Even when powered off, these devices use energy.
4. Computers: Desktop and laptop computers can zap energy, especially if they aren’t in sleep mode. So shut them off and unplug when not in use. While you’re at it, this is a great time to determine if your devices are sufficiently protected against cyber threats. Check out these cyber security tips to keep you and your devices safe from scammers.
5. Video game consoles: PlayStation and Xbox consoles use electricity even when they’re not running.
6. Televisions: Televisions are likely the biggest energy vampires in your home and continue consuming energy when they’re powered off.


Step 2: Defeat the vampires

Once you’ve identified the energy vampires, defeating them is simple.

The easiest way to slay energy vampires is by unplugging your appliances when you aren’t using them. If you have a grouping of energy vampires, try plugging everything into a power strip that can turn multiple devices on or off at once. 

Advanced power strips are a less labor-intensive way to rid your home of phantom power. Advanced power strips, or APS, prevent electronics from drawing power when they’re turned off or not in use. You can even find an APS that monitors your activity and turns off devices accordingly.


Step 3: Keep a watchful eye

Even after you’ve identified and defeated the energy vampires, you can continue taking steps to keep the phantom load in your home at bay. Did you know October is also National Energy Awareness Month? It's a perfect time to take some steps to make your home more energy efficient.

More energy savings tips

  • Seal your home. Seal areas (with insulation, caulking and weather-stripping) that separate the inside from the outside to prevent heat from escaping through the roof, walls, windows and doors. This also keeps out werewolves, we’ve heard.  
  • Keep your furnace fresh. Clean your furnace filters monthly and replace them at least once every three months. That way your furnace won’t have to work so hard to keep your home cozy. It’s also a good idea to have a furnace inspection to ensure your appliance is operating efficiently. Better yet, consider signing up for a Service Guard repair plan and adding the inspection. See if you're eligible for one month free.
  • Switch your bulbs. Replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient LED light bulbs to use less wattage and save money. 
  • Let the sun do the work. Open blinds on all south-facing windows to let the sun naturally heat your home during the day and close them at night to keep in the warmth. This also keeps the vampires at bay. 
  • Ditch your paper bill. Switch to paperless billing to reduce the use of paper. It’s easy and convenient. 
  • Check out our rebates. We have all kinds of programs to help you save money and energy. See if there's one for you.

These energy saving tips are just a piece of our commitment to sustainability and a cleaner energy future. We’ve set climate goals to reduce electric emissions intensity 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2040 and to reduce natural gas emissions intensity 50% by 2035. To date, we’ve seen a 30% reduction in electric emissions and 33% reduction in natural gas emissions. Our Sustainability Report has more about our commitment to the environment.  

Now that your home is free of energy vampires, you can sit back with a bowl of candy and enjoy the season. Happy Halloween! 

Black Hills Energy Blog

  • The ghosts, goblins and ghouls will be prowling this month, looking for a little light-hearted mischief. Unfortunately, so will the cyber criminals, whose mischief is far more frightful.    Online or cyber criminals take tricks to the extreme this and every month. Don’t let a scammer pull you…
  • Ahhhh, spring cleaning. The perfect way to shake off the winter blues and get your home ready for a beautiful spring. Plus, spring cleaning can also make your home more energy efficient, allowing your appliances to work more effectively. But when you’re busy washing windows, changing your furnace…
  • Emergencies come in all forms. Whether a forest fire threatens your home, your house has a natural gas leak, or a major storm has caused extensive damage, emergencies leave us feeling unprepared.  But there’s one way to feel a little more in control in these situations — have a plan. In this case…
  • When severe weather strikes, it pays to have an emergency kit ready and waiting. That way, a weather emergency is … well, less of an emergency. Even better, a kit doesn’t have to be super complicated. Most of the items you already have around the house. So, let’s get started. Begin with some…