U-M Planet Blue
Sustainable Computing

Eliminate Vampire Power

Vampire power—or phantom load—is the power used by devices when they are turned off.

Vampire power may enable the device to come on quickly (such as your television) or provide secondary function (such as to run the digital clock on your microwave). This may also do nothing at all (like the power adapter for your laptop or cell phone). Use the tips provided below to eliminate your vampire power now!

Unplug Your Devices

When you are finished charging your device's battery, unplug its charger or adapter from the wall. Also, remember to unplug other electronics that are used infrequently.

Measure Your Power Consumption

A Kill A Watt® can be used to measure how much electricity each of your devices are consuming, even when they are off. Some energy companies also offer programs to allow customers to view their daily consumption. Powerley is one of these programs which enables users to view their real-time energy use through a mobile app. Check with your company to see if this is an option for you.

Use Power Strips

You can reduce or eliminate vampire power by using power strips as a central turn-off point. Several types of enhanced power strips are available:

Motion-sensing Power Strips

These strips use motion sensors like those that control lighting in public areas to turn power on and off.

  1. Mount the motion sensor in a location that will detect your normal movements while working at your desk.
  2. Plug devices to be controlled into the motion controlled outlets.
  3. Set the timer between 30 seconds and 30 minutes.

That's it! There are even uncontrolled outlets for your desktop computer and other sensitive equipment.

Power Strip

You can find these by typing the words "motion-sensing power strip" into your favorite search engine.

Smart Power Strips

These strips control peripheral devices based on whether the device plugged into the control outlet is on or off.

  1. Plug your computer (or TV or other "master" device) into the control outlet.
  2. Plug peripherals into the automatically switched outlets.
  3. When the master device goes into standby mode or is turned off, the peripheral devices will automatically turn off.

As with the motion-sensing power strips, there are uncontrolled outlets for sensitive equipment.

You can find these by typing the words "smart power strip" into your favorite search engine.

Remote-controlled Power Strips

Don't you hate it when you have everything plugged into a power strip but the strip is way under the desk and you have to crawl to get to it? This is where remote-controlled power strips come in handy.

These strips allow you to mount an on/off switch within easy reach, while the power strip with its unsightly cords is hidden away under your desk.

You can find these by typing the words "remote control power strip" into your favorite search engine.

Standard Power Strips

While less fancy than those above, if you remember to switch them off when not needed, standard power strips are just as effective in eliminating phantom load. By plugging your various adapters and peripherals into a standard power strip and then turning it off when not in use, you can eliminate the leaking electricity.