Most modern devices are like your computer -- they don't turn all the way off, they just go into sleep mode, either because it makes them start up faster the next time or because they have little blue lights on at all times to make them look cool. As long as these devices are plugged into a socket, they suck the teat of Mother Electricity, little by little, 24 hours a day.
But honestly, how much power can that really be? It can't really take that much to keep your sleeping computer alive or your TiVo on standby for when it wants to record something. Right?
With all the extra seconds you save not unplugging things, you'll be able to write an extra six Facebook messages per year!
Actually, the "vampire drain" of your various plugged-ins accounts for up to 10 percent of your home's total power usage. That's more than $3 billion per year out of our pockets. "Our" doesn't mean "the government" here, either -- it means you, personally. Experts estimate that the average home loses around $200 per year because of the phenomenon.
And if you think the monetary part is nasty, wait until you see how downright ugly things get on a planetary scale. Vampire drain isn't just sneaking five bucks off your wallet for a Big Mac every now and then. Machines that leak power all the time pollute all the time. Vampire drain is responsible for 100 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every year, an amount that would take 10 million cars to fart out. It is estimated to account for up to 40 percent of the energy used for home electronics ... and it's on the rise. By 2020, some estimates expect the cost of vampire drain to hit 20 percent of our national power use.
That's every nuclear power plant in America keeping your iPhone topped off.
Think about that the next time the government is going on and on about spending billions to replace 20 percent of the power plants with renewable energy by 2020. All of that power will be sucked up by gadgets that aren't actually doing anything.
And that's not even mentioning the other idle energy wasters -- to just name one, think about the many office buildings, where useless nighttime lighting and air conditioning fight a never-ending war that benefits no one, yet manages to piss away 38 million tons of coal every year.
There are three people inside that building right now.