Written by: Guest | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
Guest Post by Kayla Matthews
It's hard to imagine life without electricity. Our countless electrical appliances have made life more comfortable and allow us to do far more than our ancestors could have dreamed. It's safe to say that the benefits of our plugged-in lives are worth the electricity bill, but you may be paying for more than what you're getting.
America wastes a lot of electricity. Surveys estimate that 67 percent of all energy in the United States was rejected in 2018. While a large portion of this is not due to home usage, you may still be using more electricity than you realize.
Forgetting to turn off the lights or leaving the heat on are prominent examples of wasted energy, but some unintended usage is harder to detect. Vampire energy or phantom loads are likely haunting your home, feeding off of your power, and inflating your electric bill.
Vampire energy and phantom loads
These ghoulish energy-consumers may not be supernatural, but can still have frightening effects. An energy vampire is a device that uses power, even while not in use. Phantom loads are the energy these vampires consume. Typical vampires include phone chargers, cable boxes and televisions.
While the electricity these devices use in stand-by is significantly less than when they're running in full power, the costs add up. Depending on how many you have in your home and local energy costs, phantom loads can cost you as much as $30 a month on top of your regular usage.
How solar can help
Vampire energy is an unwelcome guest in any household. Thankfully, there are several ways you can reduce or even eliminate them. One efficient and modern solution comes in the form of solar power.
Solar energy can reduce phantom energy consumption in a few different ways. Taking advantage of one or more of them can help you cut down your electric bill so that you only pay for what you need.
One of the most significant advantages solar has to offer is giving you more control over your power. When you use solar panels, you collect and generate your own electricity, thereby reducing the amount of energy you need to get from a traditional power grid. By using solar to power just a few appliances, you can become less dependent on outside sources, leading to a smaller bill.
Switching your entire home over to solar power may be too big a task to take on, but small changes can go a long way. By powering just your HVAC system with solar, you can take a large chunk off your bill and only have to purchase enough solar panels to power that one system.
By not relying on the grid for all of your electrical needs, you can significantly reduce your payments.
Leaving phones and laptops plugged in after full charging is an easy way to drain energy. Appliances left plugged in can increase your bill by as much as 10% percent, even when you're not using them. Using a solar power bank to charge these means that you don't have to pay anything for charging outside the initial cost of the power bank.
Solar chargers are especially convenient when traveling, as you don't have to search for an outlet. Conventional power banks require you to charge them from a wall before use, so although they offer portability, they don't save on energy costs. A solar power bank only needs sunlight to charge, so you don't need to use any outlets at any point in the process of using them.
If you don't want to use portable chargers, switching parts of your home over to solar power can still reduce the effects of plugged-in appliances. Since the grid would only account for what solar can't cover, you would use less vampire power. This is especially helpful if you have trouble breaking the habit of leaving things plugged in.
You probably use light bulbs often throughout the day. Conventional incandescent bulbs can cost $4.80 a year for just two hours of usage a day. While this number may not seem high, the cost can add up over time, especially with more bulbs and more prolonged usage. Solar bulbs can heavily reduce or even eliminate this cost.
Since solar lights rely on the sun instead of the grid, you'll only pay for electrical usage when the bulbs don't draw enough energy from the sun. Small changes, like switching out conventional bulbs with solar lights, can end up saving you a considerable amount of money.
Kayla Matthews is a tech journalist who has written for sites such as TechnoBuffalo, MakeUseOf, and Mother Earth News. To see more tech stories by Kayla, visit Productivity Bytes or follow her on Twitter.