Vampire standby power usage and how to stop it

As technology and devices become more and more prevalent, it’s leading to an increase in standby power usage, also known as a vampire or phantom load.

Standby power usage is the electricity an appliance consumes when it may appear off. It can account for as much as 10% of a household’s annual electricity bill and emit tonnes of unnecessary carbon into the atmosphere.

Standby efficiency has improved considerably in recent years, but there are still savings to be made for your wallet and for the environment. There’s no need for garlic or wooden spikes when it comes to slaying the vampire that is standby power usage, just the following these eight steps:

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Turning off appliances at the wall is a great first step, but this can still result in standby energy usage. Computers, laptops, televisions, gaming consoles and chargers should all be unplugged when not in use. Any technology that is voice-activated, displaying the time or remote-ready is usually wasting some amount of electricity while on standby.

Want to remind your office colleagues to switch off their computers off at the end of the day to save standby power? There’s a beautiful printable for that in my free PDF with seven sustainable office posters that you can find here.


If the idea of unplugging and re-plugging a bunch of different plugs each day seems too much for you, set up power boards with a number of devices plugged into each. You could divide these by:

  • Home office (computer, printer, speaker, phone charger)
  • Entertainment (television, gaming console, Cable box, DVD/BluRay player)
  • Kitchen (Microwave, kettle, coffee maker).

Unplugging the power board will stop all of these devices from consuming standby power.

The biggest culprits

Wifi routers, gaming consoles and washing machines use the most standby electricity. If you do nothing else, unplug these appliances at the wall for the biggest money and carbon savings.

Change the settings

If you keep forgetting to unplug your appliances, many smart TVs and consoles allow you to change their settings to minimise their standby functionality. This can prevent them from scanning for Wi-Fi when on standby which wastes electricity.

Use timers

Invest in wall timers for appliances that you leave on all the time such as Wifi routers. Adjust them to switch off overnight and for periods of time that you’re regularly away from your home.

Holiday prep

When preparing for a holiday or time away from your home, unplug as many appliances as possible.

Design ideas

When renovating or building a new property, request for your electrical wall sockets to be in a reachable position. It’s the fashion now to have wall sockets hidden away, making many unreachable, and it almost impossible to unplug appliances.

Shop smart

When choosing your next appliance, look for one with a high standby energy score. This should be part of an overall good energy efficiency score.

Let’s save ourselves some hard-earned money and the planet some carbon emissions by banishing the beast that is vampire power usage.

Ready. Set. Save standby power!

Stop standby power usage and save money + carbon emissions

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