Vampires, Phantoms and Footprints!

October, the month of vampires and phantoms! Those of you who are as passionate about sustainability as I am will know I’m not about to talk about the latest Netflix scary movie release.

Also known as “Standby power,” phantom draw and vampire power refers to how devices and power adapters continue to consume electricity while plugged in, but turned off. These devices or cords are really only used a fraction of the time they are plugged in, however they are still a cumulatively large draw on the electrical grid – and your wallets!

Check out this table of power consumption from the American EPA regarding standby power consumption. Phantom or vampire power consumption is approximately 10 per cent of your monthly power bill!

Now, think about your carbon footprint and how much of an impact you are making on the environment.

I looked around my own home office recently and noticed some overlooked opportunities to save on not only my monthly electrical bills, but also my carbon impact on the planet.  When I thought about how this would potentially scale up to a typical office building, it got me thinking about how to motivate others to look around and take action.

Here are five common items you can check for “vampire power”:

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Each single watt uses roughly nine kilowatt hours (kWh) annually or emits 0.006 metric tonnes of greenhouse gasses (GHG) a year. According to the carbon footprint offset calculator on the American Forests website, one tree would need to be planted to offset each watt. Lightbulbs are typically 40-60 watts each (that’s 40-60 trees!). Think about the number of lightbulbs you have in your home or place of work.  Now consider switching to LED bulbs with lower wattage.


An average mobile phone charger plugged in creates up to 0.005 metric tonnes of GHG emissions annually. While that may not seem like much to you, if 1,000 people unplugged them it would save five metric tonnes of emissions! WOW!



power toolPOWER TOOLS

The power draw of leaving a power tool battery in its charger equals 25 kWh annually or 0.15 metric tonnes of GHGs. If you and 100 of your closest friends took action (we’re looking at you Mike Holmes), that could amount to 15 metric tonnes diverted, and collectively save $2,500 in electricity billing.


There are many appliances that we only use once in a while. Think about your microwave, toaster oven and coffee maker to name a few. I realized my coffee maker sits off for a minimum of 23 hours per day. In that time, 0.06 metric tonnes of GHG’s could be avoided annually.



Hello lowly laser printer. How often do you run all day? I’m going to guess total print time is less than one hour. So, for the remaining 23 hours per day you use 0.08 metric tonnes of GHGs. Do you really need to be plugged in?



Now that you are aware of how vampire power works, spot opportunities to take action. Collectively, the power of small actions make a big difference. Feel free to leave a comment and share some of your tips or tweet us @TELUS using #sustainability.