A week before Halloween, posters appeared in the HLS dormitories alerting residents that “vampires are real.” The meaning behind the mysterious posters was revealed on October 28 with a series of signs educating students about “vampire power,” or “phantom load.” Vampire power refers to the energy that plugged-in devices consume even when in “off” or “standby” mode. This applies to televisions, computers, printers, and phone chargers, to name a few. The EPA estimates that vampire energy costs the United States about $10 billion dollars every year. You can see how much your own appliances are costing you by using this vampire energy calculator.

The impact of vampire power may not be well-known among the general public, so the HLS Green Living Program provided a week-long awareness campaign. The abundance of vampires in popular culture made for some eye-catching posters showing students how they can reduce vampire power in their daily lives. Students were encouraged to “slay the vampires” by following any or all of the tips provided.

Day-to-day ways to reduce energy use include unplugging devices not in use and limiting shower time. A more permanent measure would be replacing one’s power strip with a smart strip.

Although the Green Living Program’s awareness campaign was most visible to students who live in campus housing, the vampire power reduction tips certainly apply to students living off-campus. These students in particular will appreciate the cost savings associated with cutting down on vampire power.

Reducing vampire power takes little effort and creates a win-win scenario: less energy consumed and less money wasted.