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To commemorate National Energy Action Month, we’re featuring some scarily effective ways to save energy at home. As cooler weather lurks around the corner, tune in to all week long for ways to save energy and money -- and avoid cold weather terrors like energy vampires. We also put together some energy-themed costume ideas and pumpkin patterns to help “energize” your neighborhood for Halloween. Send us photos of your energy-themed costumes and jack-o-lanterns via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or email at and we'll share our favorites.

Halloween -- or as we like to call it, Energyween -- is just around the corner. While trick or treaters are roaming the streets in search of screams and sweets, a hidden terror could already be lurking in your home. We’re talking about energy vampires  -- evil ghouls that suck electrical power from your appliances when you aren’t using them, taking a big bite out of your wallet.

For instance, mobile phone chargers that are left plugged in after your phone is disconnected consume .26 watts of energy -- and 2.24 watts when your phone is fully charged and still connected. If you start factoring in all the other appliances and electronics that are plugged in and not in use, it’s easy to see why these energy vampires could add an extra 10 percent to your monthly utility bill.

But never fear. Slay energy vampires with these four simple strategies:

1. Unplug. Unplug. Unplug.

This probably won’t work for your cable box or wireless router, but if you have an extra TV or some other electronic device or appliance you don’t switch on often, you should consider unplugging it completely until the next time you actually use it.

2. Plug your appliances into power strips.

Power strips let you  toggle the power flow on and off. This means you can control the power usage of clusters of devices so that they’re not consuming electricity when you’re not at home. Using a light switch that turns power outlets on and off, if you have one, accomplishes the same end with even less effort. An advanced power strip makes it even easier by turning off idle electronics without any additional steps from you.

3. Curb idle time.

Simply setting your computer to sleep mode, or stopping a game and powering down your video game console instead of leaving it paused for a prolonged period, could lead to bigger savings.

4. Make smart upgrades.

When it comes time to send your old electronics and appliances to the graveyard, consider replacing them with ENERGY STAR devices. They have a lower standby consumption than your average device and use less energy all around. This calculator helps you estimate how much energy it takes to power your electronics and appliances throughout the year and identify even more savings opportunities.

Visit for more tricks to save energy and money. Happy Energyween!

Paul Lester
Paul Lester is a Digital Content Specialist in the Office of Public Affairs. Paul was born in Ohio but spent most of his life in Florida, where he worked as news researcher/archivist and online editor for the Orlando Sentinel.
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