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A ‘vampire’ invades homes this Halloween: energy-sucking ’standby mode’

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A force as insidious as Dracula is quietly sucking a nickel of every dollar’s worth of the electricity that seeps from your home’s outlets.

Insert the little fangs of your cell phone charger in the outlet and leave it there, phone attached: That’s vampire electronics.

Allow your computer to hide in the cloak of darkness known as “standby mode” rather than shutting it off: That’s vampire electronics.
The latest estimates show 5 percent of electricity used in the United States goes to standby power, a phenomenon energy efficiency experts find all the more terrifying as energy prices rise and the planet warms. That amounts to about $4 billion a year.

The percentage could rise to 20 percent by 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

In California, lawmakers passed a proposal last year _ dubbed the Vampire Slayers Act _ to add vampire electronics labels to consumer products, detailing how much energy a charger, computer, DVD player, PlayStation, microwave or coffee maker uses when on, off or in standby mode.

“It’s something people don’t know about,” said Dave Walton, home ideas director for Direct Energy, a utility and energy services company that has one of its four main offices in Dublin, Ohio.

The issue is particularly pressing in Ohio, the nation’s No. 1 emitter of toxic air emissions _ mostly from electricity production at the state’s coal-fired power plants. Walton said skyrocketing energy costs mean everyone should worry about the vampires in the house.


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