Have you heard of vampire appliances? They’re appliances and electronics around the home that use a level of electricity even when they are switched off or on standby.

And while you might have read other articles that say you could save £500 or even £1700 a year by switching off these appliances – we’re here to inject a little bit more realism while still helping you to save money where you can.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, vampire appliances are likely to be costing the average household around £65 a year. In this article, we share why this happens, what the most likely culprits are and how to save money and electricity without really changing your lifestyle at all.  

Why do some appliances use electricity when they aren’t being used?

Here are some of the reasons why your electronics or appliances might use energy while they are switched off or on standby:

  • They have a continuous display or an internal clock, for example your microwave, or your coffee machine.
  • They need to receive a signal, for example your TV
  • They constantly monitor the temperature, for example your fridge.
  • They are constantly ‘listening’, for example a Sonos or an Alexa.
  • They are light or motion activated, for example night lights or motion activated lights
  • They are continuously converting AC power to DC power, for example your laptop charger

Which appliances use the most energy while on standby?

Additional fridges: Fridges and freezers account for around 13% of the average household’s energy bill. While you can’t turn off your fridge when it is stocked full of food, many people have additional fridges that they use for drinks that could be switched off when not needed.

TV boxes: TV boxes such as a Sky Q box or Virgin TV 360 Box are actually some of the biggest consumers of energy while on standby – with a Sky Q costing around £25 a year. You may be able to switch your box into eco-mode when it isn’t in active use to reduce how much electricity it consumes.

Microwaves: Another electronic that uses a surprising amount of electricity while on standby is your microwave. According to Money Saving Expert, they use around 5p a day while on standby, which adds up to over £20 a year. Get around this by simply turning it off at the wall when you aren’t using it.

Televisions: TVs search for satellite or WIFI signals while they are on standby, but they don’t cost as much money as other articles might lead you to believe. This is because EU laws state that TVs manufactured since 2013 can’t use more than 0.5 watts while on standby mode.  

Computers: Did you know that your screen timing out on your laptop or computer doesn’t necessarily mean it is in energy saving ‘sleep mode’? Have you ever shut the lid on a fully charged laptop and found its battery empty in the morning? To get around this, you can adjust your computer and laptop sleep settings to kick in sooner after a period of inactivity, and make sure you tick the box to put your laptop into sleep mode when you shut the lid.

Chargers: Leaving your laptop charger plugged into the mains even when it isn’t charging up your laptop uses up unnecessary electricity. It might feel hot to the touch, and that’s because it’s using energy to convert AC power from the mains into DC power. Other chargers to watch out for are electric toothbrush chargers – unplug them when not in use – and phone or tablet chargers. While they don’t use lots of electricity, you should you unplug your device when it is fully charged or you might slowly degrade the battery.

How can you identify your home’s energy vampires?

Smart meter
Close Up Of Smart Energy Meter In Kitchen Measuring Electricity And Gas Use With Woman Boiling Kettle

One of the easiest ways that you can identify which appliances in your home are using unnecessary electricity is by getting a smart meter and looking at your In-Home Display (IHD).

This will help you to understand how much electricity you are using at any one time, see the impact of switching items off, and understand any longer term impacts on your energy bills too.

Have a read of some of our articles that explain the benefits of smart meters in more detail:

How can you reduce how much electricity you are taking from the grid?

The most impactful way to reduce how much electricity you are drawing from the grid is to generate your own.

With the price of energy at an all-time high right now, generating and using your own solar power results in bigger savings and faster payback than it would have done a few years ago.

According to Money Saving Expert, you could save up to £500 on your energy bills each year by using the power you generate at home; and you can get paid for the electricity you export back to the grid too. Generating your own renewable electricity also means you’ll be playing a direct part in the fight against the climate crisis: the more homes with solar panels, the less the UK needs to rely on fossil fuels like gas. 

Good Energy have recently launched own solar panel installation service, based on our decades of experience in renewable electricity generation and supply. Register your interest today to benefit from savings on your energy bills.  We have also recently launched our very own export tariff that will pay you market leading rates for the electricity you generate at home that is exported back to the grid.