What’s the Spook on Vampire Loads? A Halloween Special on Plug Loads.

By Rois Langner, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Marta Schantz, Waypoint Building, and Sormeh Konjkav, Waypoint Building on Oct 27, 2016

Garlic may keep vampires from sucking your blood, but what’s keeping vampires loads from sucking your energy? Plug and Process Loads (PPLs) account for 33% of U.S. commercial building energy use. A portion of that energy can be attributed to vampire or phantom loads: energy use from electric devices that still draw power when they are in an “off” or “standby” mode. The General Services Administration estimates that 25% of commercial plug load electricity is lost to vampire loads. Devices and appliances, such as office computers, printers, phone chargers, kitchen toasters, microwaves, conference room TVs, and projector systems - that are consistently plugged in and not always in use - can fall victim to this phantom draw. 

Slaying vampire loads can be as simple as unplugging devices. But let’s be real – remembering to unplug devices after each use can be folklore. Implementing plug load controls, however, can be the garlic to your vampire load. Advanced Power Strips (APSs) offer a cost-effective way to ward vampire loads off with energy savings up to 26% at workstations, and 48% in kitchens and printer rooms.

Vampire loads can be banished by APSs across all building types and equipment, and a number of APS control options are available. APSs are similar to conventional power strips in look, but have built-in technology to reduce PPL runtimes and turn devices completely off when not in use. These controls include master-controlled APSs that automatically turn off peripheral devices when a primary device is turned off, activity monitors that turn equipment on and off with motion sensors, and remote switch APSs that enable a user to turn a device on or off with a remote control. Read a one-page how-to guide to help you use your APS correctly or learn more about all the plug and process loads activities here.

Beyond APSs, bringing awareness of vampire loads through occupant engagement campaigns and strategic messaging can help achieve even more savings by encouraging occupants to “turn it off” or “flip the switch.” The Decision Guide for Plug and Process Load Controls can help you choose the right control strategies for your plug-in devices, implement awareness campaigns, and think about design considerations that can reduce the number of plug-in devices in your space.

Visit the Better Buildings Solution Center for additional resources and strategies to ward off vampire loads from leeching your equipment’s energy today. Happy Halloween!