Dr. Power Shines Light on Vampire Loads

When you go to sleep at night, not everything in your house does. Many devices in homes continue to draw power even when turned off. They are called vampire loads and by some estimates consume billions of dollars annually in electricity.

Televisions, printers, set-top boxes, and many other appliances continue using energy when off or in standby mode. The National Resources Defense Council estimates that in California, this idle load accounts for about 20 percent of the average home’s annual electric use. It also estimates that nationwide, it costs consumers about $20 billion.

But a free smartphone app, developed by Los Altos-based Home Energy Analytics, and funded through a California Energy Commission research grant, can help consumers ward off extra expenses by shining a light on vampire loads.

The Dr. Power app lets users tap into its library of more than 100,000 appliances and devices to identify equipment contributing to their home’s idle load. The app also provides recommendations for reducing idle loads such as adding smart power strips, using inexpensive timers, or unplugging seldom-used devices. Dr. Power can even link Pacific Gas and Electric Company and Southern California Edison customers directly to their smart meter data to show the actual idle load.

“It's common sense that electronic equipment ought to consume a minimal amount of energy when not in use," said California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister. "Improved efficiency unlocks millions in utility bill savings for consumers and lightens the load on our electricity system.”

The Dr. Power app was developed with support from the Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge program, which invests about $160 million annually for clean energy innovations, strategies, and applications that help the state meet its energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction goal.

To help further improve the app, a survey is included on its capabilities and usefulness. Users can also send comments to The Dr. Power app is available through the Apple and Android app stores.

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Research & Development

California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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