We've all heard of vampire power (and how to put a stake in it), and we all know there's a price to pay to power all our electronics and gadgets. But what is that price in real dollars? How much does it really cost you to run that home office? Or that home theater?
We put a watt meter behind all our devices and tell you.
We recently got a watt meter on loan from our utility company as part of a program to identify and manage devices with high amounts of phantom load (or vampire power).
We were curious about putting it to the test, and putting a dollars and cents number behind what it really costs to run all our gadgets (both on and in standby mode).
Yearly Standby Power Costs
Let's first look at the yearly cost to run a lot of our common electronics when they are off, or in standby mode. All costs are assuming the cost of power is 9.5 cents / kWh (kilowatt hour).
This exercise generally taught us that small electronics that don't feature clocks or lights use an insignificant amount of vampire power. Not surprisingly, the heavy hitters were the devices that are always on. For instance, the DVR gives a good amount of hurt to our wallets. We suspect this is due to the limited standby mode it uses in order to record our shows, get updates over satellite, etc. Our internet connection devices such as routers and cable modems are always on and working as well. Unfortunately, there's not much we can do to cut down on power to these items without major inconvenience.
The other devices, for the most part, were surprisingly good and used limited power when asleep. We were happy to see our new Plasma didn't seem to be plagued with vampire power usage at all. Our small desktop effectively slept without consuming much power either.
Yearly Powered On Costs
So, what about when all these devices are on? What's that costing me then?
Well, here's a look at the most power-hungry devices of the bunch when we are using them at full force.
This list is dominated by our Home Office electronics because they are used for the better part of the day in our workflow. Keep in mind this list is assuming you left the devices on all the time. 24/7. 365 days a year.
We were actually quite surprised to see that the total cost wasn't all that bad. Especially when considering that the devices are probably actually on for only about 30% of that 24/7 total.
It was also no big surprise that the biggest power hitters in this view were our displays. They're big, bright, and work quite intensively.
Overall, it looks like most our modern day electronics do a decent job of managing power when in standby mode. Keep in mind, that a lot of the electronics we tested were new models, so manufacturer's probably focused on cutting down the power bite when designing these devices. Results may vary considerably for older electronics.
Our DVR's and Displays are the most power hungry of the bunch, but unfortunately those are the items we have the least control to manage by unplugging or turning off. Let's just be sure we are turning those devices off when they're not in use, because the cost can add quickly with them.