Even when household appliances are turned off, most are still using some electricity when they remain plugged in, sometimes referred to as “vampire energy.”

Appliances are either in passive standby mode (the clock on the microwave is still ticking), or active standby mode (the VCR is off, but programmed to record something).

The numbers below are for average standby modes, showing how much electricity is sucked out annually, in kilowatt hours, and what it costs you—assuming 11 cents per kilowatt hour. Red lines show passive standby mode; blue lines show active standby mode.

Consider how much money could be saved at home and work by unplugging these items or putting them on a power strip that can be turned off during the day.


Illustration from the Department of Energy