The term “vampire appliances” has crept into modern language. These are not characters of a horror movie. They are not household items that come alive at night and reign terror on a family.

Vampire appliances suck electricity while such devices seem to be asleep. They are a concern because wasted dollars on electric bills devour funds from a household budget. This money could be used to buy extras and support local businesses.

There are ways to reduce the phantom drain on home power. The key is to become aware of which appliances are pulling energy even when not in use.

Vampire appliances remain in “sleep” mode when apparently off. They are ready to power up at a tap or AI command. Thus, they are on “standby,” not off.

For example, televisions with cable or satellite boxes are always receiving signals. Accordingly, they constantly pull some energy. Computers, printers and scanners that are plugged in draw energy.

Many small appliances and devices that make daily life convenient continuously pull energy. Appliances left plugged in all day might use more energy than necessary.

Rechargeable appliances, cellphone chargers and adapters can become vampires. When remaining plugged in after a full charge, rechargeable electric toothbrushes, hair dryers and curling irons all are vampires.

Such phantom energy pull might result from outdated or inefficient appliances. It may be time to replace them. Appliances that block unnecessary energy use often are labeled as ENERGY STAR-certified.

Certain appliances are too difficult to disconnect. An above the range microwave might not be convenient to disconnect, while a countertop model is easier to unplug. Similarly, connecting a cable modem for each use seems totally impractical for most folks.

On the same note, certain appliances need to remain plugged in to function properly. Most digital clocks require a constant source of electricity. When we come home to a blinking clock, we know the electricity failed recently.

With many appliances using home energy, it is difficult to stop all phantom drainage. Every step, though, helps reduce the utility bill.

To combat a vampire energy drain, take a home inventory. List everything around the house that is plugged into electricity. Determine which items are pulling unnecessary power.

Referring to the list, find vampire items using the main indicators of continuous energy pull. Appliances with a remote control, a standby indicator light, or a built-in clock usually are culprits. Some devices have indicator lights that glow while pulling energy.

Begin making small changes to reduce unnecessary energy charges. Unplug small appliances and devices and their chargers, if any, when they become fully charged.

Get a return on investment by buying power strips. These make it easier to stop the energy flow into appliances when not in use.

Plug into a strip several appliances that generally are needed at the same time. For example, a computer and a printer can be turned off with the press of one button. A phone charger plugged into the same strip will be turned off also.

Get and use smart plugs programmed to control certain devices. I got a heating and cooling programmable thermostat. Often these can be controlled from a smart phone.

The information in this column concerns energy drawn from the power grid. It is not to be confused with the concept of phantom energy, a hypothetical form of dark energy beyond the sphere of this writer. Nor is this column about the so-called vampire energy that causes emotional or bodily exhaustion.

Taking action to reduce consumption by vampire appliances will stop a drain on the household budget. Use the savings to shop locally or give to a local cause.

Janet Miller

Janet Miller is a freelance writer specializing in family faith. She offers Family Prayers and Activities: Weekly Guides on compact disc for families to explore the Bible together. Email