What are Vampire Appliances?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Vampire appliances are appliances which continue to suck energy even they are turned off, because they enter a standby mode rather than fully powering down. The term is also used more generally to refer to energy-hungry appliances. Many people have a number of vampire appliances in their homes, and these appliances can drive energy bills up significantly. Advocacy organizations hope that by getting the word about vampire appliances out, they can encourage consumers to take measures to reduce their energy usage.

Unplugging electronics that are not in use can lower an electric bill.
Unplugging electronics that are not in use can lower an electric bill.

Common examples of vampire appliances include some televisions and DVD players, heaters, computers, and “instant-on” devices which can be powered up with the touch of a button. If you have appliances which are operated remotely, they could also be considered vampire appliances. Likewise with timed devices, alarms, garage doors, and so forth. Any sort of device which has a standby mode will use power as long as it is in standby.

Reducing the number of "vampire appliances," would reduce the overall demand on the power grid.
Reducing the number of "vampire appliances," would reduce the overall demand on the power grid.

The cost to run a vampire appliance varies. In some cases, appliances use almost as much power on standby as they do when they are on; companies with large numbers of computers, for example, noticed that their electric bills dropped dramatically when they turned the computers off over the weekend rather than just putting them into standby mode.

There are a number of reasons to identify and eliminate vampire appliances in a home or business. In the more immediate sense, getting rid of vampire appliances will save consumers a great deal of money. It also reduces strain on the power grid, ensuring that electricity will be available during periods of peak demand. Since many methods of energy generation are also ecologically unsound, eliminating such appliances can also benefit the environment.

Naturally, most consumers don't want to just toss their energy wasting appliances, for a variety of reasons. But there are some steps you can take to reduce energy waste. For example, you can unplug appliances like televisions and electric heaters when you aren't using them, so that they are truly off, rather than just in standby mode. You can also shut down your computer after use, rather than putting it on standby. Depending on where you are, you may also be able to find specialized powerstrips which offer surge protection and turn off when the appliances they are attached to go onto standby. These powerstrips can be great power management tools for people who are worried that they won't always remember to fully power down or unplug appliances.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


than your laptop may run out of electricity without you knowing so.


many appliances will have their life shortened if you continually switch on and off instead of leaving in standby mode. This particularly applies to audio/visual equipment.

Additionally, standby only uses a trickle of energy.

Dr. Graham, scientist


as far as i know, putting "standby" mode may consume less energy than a shutting down the device state then turn on again. of course if the standby mode is within few hours.


no. standby is very different than unplugged. it is another example of "instant-on" technology. it takes much less power to 'recover' laptops from a powered-off state than to maintain a 'standby' mode.


If a laptop is closed so that it goes into standby mode then, should it be unplugged? That way it is using nothing other than its battery power.

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