smart spending

5 ways to slice summer power bills

Slay the vampires
Slay the vampires

Where's the one place people waste power and don't even realize it? Vampire power: It's the energy some appliances and electronics drain from your home when they are turned off.

"I think the biggest one is one we all should know but probably don't: that 'off' means unplugged," says Bob Hart, broker with Century 21 A Hart Realty in Santa Barbara, California, and green designation instructor with the National Association of Realtors. "People have no idea how many things in their house (use) electricity 24 hours a day."

Signs of a vampire: Anything with a clock or light that's on when the item is turned off. Also, any kind of plugged-in charger can be a vampire appliance -- whether or not it's charging anything.

Staking vampires doesn't mean going around constantly plugging and unplugging your electrical items. (Unlike real vampires, that would get old fast.) Instead, hook things up to surge protectors. Or use outlets that connect to wall switches for vampire items. When the wall switch is off, there's no power to drain.

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