Vampire Electronics and Appliances

Most homes never quite shut down for the night. Although lamps may be off, dark rooms are typically spotted with tiny red and green lights of appliances and the glow of digital clocks.

All of those seemingly "sleeping" appliances, however, are using more electricity than most would think. Sometimes called vampire electronics, these devices use five percent of all energy consumed in the US and cost consumers more than $3 billion every year.

For the average homeowner, vampire electronics can add 20 percent to their monthly electric bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To trim this excess energy use, know where these vampires reside and keep them in check.

Any digital displays, such as microwave and coffee machine clocks, are working against your electric bill. And many of those chargers around the house - those that keep cell phones, power tools and MP3 palyers at the ready - constantly draw power when plugged in.

Unplugging these "vampires" helps control costs. Power strips provide another form of control. Simply plug appliances into a power strip, and switch it off when those appliances aren't being used.

In addition, unplug any battery-operated electronic device once charged. You wouldn't walk away from a flowing water hose, after all. And you certainly don't want to keep electricity flowing when you don't need it!