The Invasion of the Energy Vampires

Forget the Zombie Apocalypse,
We’re Being Invaded by Energy Vampires
This Halloween, we’ll be seeing tons of spooky creatures and supernatural monsters out on the streets, but the scariest monster is lurking every day right in your own home: the energy vampire! An “energy vampire” is an electronic appliance or device that still uses energy when it’s plugged in, even if it’s turned off.
Most energy vampires go into “standby” mode, where they continuously suck a trickle of electricity (called a “phantom load”) to power features such as clocks, digital displays, timers, and LED status lights. Yes, that means your glowing microwave clock is actually a creature of the night!
Did you know that the typical modern household uses 20-40 energy vampire appliances? And they’re hungry creatures. They account for 5-10% of a household’s total electricity use. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that adds up to about $100 per year for each household, or more than $10 billion in annual energy costs nationwide!
Some energy vampires that might be draining your wallet include:
  • DVRs (digital video recorders) & set-top cable and satellite boxes
  • TVs (especially LCD and plasma TVs) & DVD players
  • Video game consoles
  • Computers (desktops & notebooks)
  • Microwaves, coffee makers, and toaster ovens
  • Chargers (e.g. for cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc.)
  • Home audio systems
Here are some tips on how to slay energy vampires in your own home:
  • Unplug devices when they’re not being used. Energy vampires can’t suck your home’s electricity if they aren’t connected to a wall outlet! It may not be feasible to unplug every energy vampire in your home, but it’s easy and practical to unplug appliances in areas not frequently used, such as a guest room or garage. Finally, be sure to unplug rechargeable items as soon as they’re done charging.
  • Use a power strip or surge protector: Plug appliances into an easily accessible power strip or surge protector and simply turn the entire power strip off when the devices aren’t being used. This conveniently cuts off the electricity from greedy energy vampires!
  • Buy weaker energy vampires: You may not be able to completely avoid energy vampires in this digital age, but you can choose to buy and use appliances that drain less energy than others when in standby mode.
For more information about saving energy, please visit our VIEW Partnership website .

EEK-O-Friendly Halloween

It's Halloween time, and if you know me well, you’ll be surprised to hear that I was once terrified of what eventually became one of my favorite holidays. I used to hide under my family’s kitchen table every time the doorbell rang. I’m not kidding; it really was that bad. That was long ago, though, and by the time I was in first grade, I ventured out in my Jasmine costume and faced the world of trick-or-treating, which has, since then, become a lot more realistic and spooky.

My peacock costume
Halloween 2011
I’d like everyone to give my mama a big round of applause, because nearly twenty years ago, she was ahead of the game, making Halloween a reuse and recycle kind of holiday. My Jasmine costume was ribbon wound around the legs of old baggy sweatpants paired with the matching boat-neck sweatshirt. A few years later, she made me Piglet ears using scraps of poster board and a headband. This has rubbed off on me, and never, in my entire life, have I purchased a Halloween costume nor have I used anything but a spare pillowcase to carry my candy. Sure, I bought a pair of cat ears here and a pair of wings there when I was in a time crunch, but for the most part, I LOVE making my Halloween costumes and in recent years my costumes have only become bigger and more extravagant art projects (see pictures) using things around the house or a few small findings at a fabric store.

Making Pebbles and Bamm-
Bamm costumes in 2012. Yes,
I used real chicken bones.
DIY costumes are one way to cut down on waste and consumerism, especially if you’re using old clothes and things around the house. If you’re not the sewing type, however, costume swaps have gained tons of momentum around the country. Throw a costume swap party with a bunch of your friends… you’re bound to find something you like or something you can easily turn into this year's Halloween costume of your dreams! Making your own face paint is a good way to be green, too, not to mention a good way to avoid carcinogens and chemicals. As long as you look into natural food coloring or make your own (to prevent any potential allergic reactions), you can just add a few drops to unscented lotion or pure cocoa butter (found at your local health food store) and you’ve got face paint!

Sugar-free, useful AND fun!
Photo Source: ebay.com
I’m pretty sure candy and Halloween treats are the hardest thing to give up. Personally, I can’t resist a Snickers or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. However, there are ways to make your Halloween healthier while simultaneously indulging yourself a little bit. Plus, you'll cut down on the number of wrappers going into a landfill this year. Our old SJVCEO coworker, Maureen, has a clever approach: she buys candy she doesn’t like so she’s not tempted to eat it all. Once my sister and I both left for college, my mom only bought two or three bags, set aside a few pieces for my dad, and closed up shop once the bags were empty. Another good idea is a combination of both of the above: buy a limited amount of candy that you won’t crave, get rid of it Halloween night and makesome funky AND healthy treats to keep around the house. School supplies, like fun pencils, are another sugar- and wrapper-free alternative. Or if you, like me, are a dark chocolate fiend, you can just get dark chocolate in bulk. It’s healthy so you don’t have to feel bad about sneaking some for yourself OR dishing it out to the neighborhood.

Here’s to a safe, fun and GREEN Halloween!