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July 9, 2011 / Robert Ross

Staking the Vampire!

Vampire Power. This is not an affirmative action slogan for the creatures of the night that populate the Twilight or True Blood series, but the name for a very real and expensive drain on budgets. Walk through the house with your lights off and start to notice all  little blue, green or red lights clustered around your television- all the DVD, Blueray, VCR players, the wii and Playstation consoles, the cable boxes that are always on.  Those little lights aren’t night lights provided by the manufacturer’s for your protection, they are constant contributors to your electric bill. This is Vampire power.

As a follow-up to the first post of the year, a simple resolution , I was reminded and nudged into action by this article in the June 25th New York Times. It basically reminded me that a cable box is always on and then clubbed me over the head with the fact that this innocuous device consumes about as much power as a 21 cubic foot refrigerator!  We have 3! In a recent study, by the Natural Resources Defense Council, “it was concluded that the boxes consumed $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States — and that 66 percent of that power is wasted when no one is watching and shows are not being recorded. That is more power than the state of Maryland uses over 12 months.” That is a staggering statistic!

This has been picked up by numerous  blogs and news sites.  For me the kicker was that the answer in the articles seemed to always be buy a power strip and turn the whole system off. Given the inadequate lack of the power outlets in most homes, all the TV’s in our home were already on surge protecting power strips, they are just too inconvenient to turn on and off.  They invariably involve crawling on the floor to find that on/off switch!  I have to come clean and admit that I’m just too lazy for that. I also find it ironic that the designers of most of these power strips also felt a need to light the on/off switch as well! Well, after that I decided to do some additional research of my own and very quickly came across smart power strips.

These are surge protectors that have dedicated outlets that power on and off when the master outlet powers up. If you plug the TV into the master outlet, then the accompanying equipment into the energy saving outlets, they will all power on and off with a command from your remote! It doesn’t get much easier than that! I went out and promptly purchase 3 Utilitech #0316995 from our nearby Lowe’s for about $30.00 each. Since the kids seem to have extreme difficulty remembering to turn off their wii, I think that will be the first unit installed!  I don’t know if I’m trading one type of vampire for another, these strips also come well lit! It would be nice if industrial designers and marketers could get together. My hope is that these will work as advertised and reduce overall power consumption.

After installing these, I think we will indulge in something appropriate for dinner – maybe some Vampire’s Stake with Gaaaahlic Butter (Steak with Gaaaahlic Butter) courtesy of Emeril Lagasse. Accompanied by something red, of course! Bon Appetit!


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