Getting Rid of Vampires

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Challenge #4: In the Dark?

Glowing Blue with Pride
“Geez, those are bright!” This is the usual response I get when people walk into our room. Yes, they are bright, but the CFLs in our single five-headed lamp light up the whole room. They also use less energy than incandescent bulbs and will last about 10 times as long! On move-in day last August, all six members of my college dorm suite “family” agreed to use CFLs in all our lamps with an ongoing challenge to use the same bulbs until we graduate: one bulb for four years. How long would a CFL last in your house?

In my room, our five-headed lamp used 9.69 kWh of electricity in the last 28 days. The average state emits about 1.3 pounds of CO2 per kWh (it depends on how your state generates electricity! Check it out:

We always try to turn our lights off when we aren’t in the room, but we do study here a lot (it’s true!). CFL’s reduce our energy usage by 75 percent without any effort. And our contributions are clearly visible from the outside of our building. The CLFs give our room a slightly bluish glow when you look at our building from the quad. With the extra CFLs provided in the San Diego Zoo’s Green Family Challenge kit (since we already have them in my suite), we exchanged the incandescent bulbs for CFLs in two other suites! It is a fad that is catching, and I am hopeful that with some effort, every room will have the faintly “blueish” glow of CFLs (and the university will be using 75 percent less energy!).

A Vampire Invasion
On another note, while sitting at my desk, trying to brainstorm a more creative way to reduce electricity use in my dorm suite, I noticed that the electricity monitor I had plugged into the wall showed I was using electricity. This struck me as odd since the only thing plugged in was a power strip with my printer, which was currently turned off, and my cell phone charger. How could these two devices, one which was off and the other not in use, be sucking up electricity? Apparently, they can, and it is a big problem! I did some research and discovered that it is called “vampire power” (can you guess why?!) and that it accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all household electricity use in the United States every year. My extra cords really do make a difference. By getting my suitemates to unplug their cords when not in use, our suite can save more than 6 kWh every month, and if I can get the whole building to unplug, then we could easily save more than 100 kilowatts every month easily.

Don’t be a vampire—unplug your stuff!

Ronit Abramson

Read Ronit’s previous post, Red, White, and Meatless.