Do you have a vampire in your building?

Yes, vampire! But not the kind that’s thirsty for blood – the even sneakier kind that could be costing you money, sucking your wallet dry. We call these Vampire Loads.

So what is a vampire load and why should we care? A vampire load (also known as a phantom load or standby power) is a term used to describe the electricity that many devices waste just by being plugged in – even if they’re switched off.

Does your facility have electronics that stay plugged in all the time, like desktop computers, monitors, laser printers or DVD players? What about devices that need to be recharged, such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, and so on? And the chargers for these products themselves? All of these – and others – contribute to vampire loads. And the combined energy waste from these loads could add up to significant costs over time.

So how do we stop these evil loads? Well, there are several ways. If you want to reduce the cost associated with vampire loads, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Computers and other electronic equipment use electricity around the clock, even when not in use. Encourage employees to turn off all office equipment after hours and on weekends. Always evaluate your facilities operational needs before implementing any energy efficiency steps.
  • By plugging office equipment into power strips, it makes it easier to turn them all off when not in use. Better yet, purchase a smart power strip, which senses when a product is not in use and eliminates its standby power consumption.
  • Screen savers save computer screens, not energy. Your monitor uses almost full power when the screen saver appears. Automatic switching to sleep mode or manually turning monitors off is always the better energy-saving strategy.
  • Consider using plug-in timers to automatically turn off printers, copiers, and similar machines.

Wondering how much vampire loads are costing you? You can use this tool to quickly estimate the cost of vampire loads in your building. And if you want to save money by increasing the efficiency of your boiler, mechanical systems, HVAC equipment and other electrical equipment too, be sure to check out the rest of the calculators our engineers have put together.

When using the Vampire Load Calculator, you’ll need to input the current price of your electricity. This is calculated based on dollar per kilowatt hour and can be found on your electric bill. In May of 2014, the average retail price in the U.S. was 0.098. Average data by state can be found here.

We hope you find our Vampire Load and other calculators helpful in assessing your energy savings potential. Even just a few percent savings could mean significant kilowatt hours and dollar savings. What other ways do you know of saving energy in your facility?


© 2014 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This article is intended for information purposes only. HSB makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the content of this article.

Ernest Freeman

Vice President of Engineering in Hartford Steam Boiler's Loss Control Engineering Group, with over 39 years of experience in equipment operation and maintenance. He is a Certified School Risk Manager (CSRM), member of The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), Certified Energy Auditor (CEA) and a licensed commissioned Inspector by The National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors.


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