04/15/2009 10:33 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Killing Bloodthirsty Power Vampires For Christmas

It's Halloween, so lots of green-loving sites (and one very Big Box store, Best Buy) are taking on the so-called power vampires - those appliances in our home that suck just a little bit of power all the time unless they are completely unplugged.

The little bits of power can add around $1,000 extra to your electricity bill each year. A simple yardstick: one watt of power equals $1 per year of electricity cost, or approximately $4 billion of "lost" efficiency savings in this country annually.

If you ever needed just one more reason to ditch your microwave, vampire power is it - the microwave can draw more juice just sitting there all the time then it does occasionally employed heating food. According to Best Buy, that laptop left on continuously can suck as much energy as the refrigerator. And a 65-inch LCD TV on all the time would cost almost $500 annually to run - that's apart from the nearly 6,000 pounds of CO2 the continuous usage represents.

Best Buy's top tips aren"t rocket science - one key to vanquishing vampires is the power strip - which can be a great way to group together electronics and turn them all off at the end of a work session or at night. In addition, pulling out chargers when they are not in use, closing down the computer and upgrading to more efficient appliances are all good ways to reduce electricity usage.

There are also software power management utilities, like Verdiem"s Edison (for Windows users) will show you how much energy you save by employing different settings on your computer.

Yet even if today and tomorrow it's all about killing vampires by pulling out the plugs and pulling in the candy, before you know it both colder weather, Christmas and higher electric bills will be upon us. So perhaps a more effective vampire killer is needed. Enter the Kill-A-Watt.

photo Ineedcoffee @ flickr

The Kill-A-Watt for $30 is a wealth of information about the real cost of appliances and electronics in the home. Plug in the Kill-A-Watt and then connect any charger, microwave, hair dryer or computer (up to 20 amps) into the device to see exactly how many watts each one consumes.

It's proven to be so effective at helping consumers reduce electricity consumption and killing vampires you can now borrow Kill-A-Watts at some libraries. As frugality is becoming the new black, the Kill-A-Watt may turn into one of the season's best holiday gifts - practical, versatile, and it keeps on giving back.

Once you get your hands on a Kill-A-Watt you'll probably find some surprising vampires in your home - and it's more fun than a bowl full of candy corn.

Lots more vampire power fun from TreeHugger
::Green Plug Hopes to Take a Bite Out of Vampire Power
::TreeHugger TV: Vampire Power
::Is Phantom Energy Haunting Your House?
::Another Stake Through the Heart of Vampire Power
::New Device to Eliminate Phantom Power Losses
::How to Go Green: Electricity