How to Keep Vampires Out of Your House This Christmas

By: Matt Grocoff , Contributing Writer
In: Uncategorized, Home Improvement Tips, Green Renovations, Technology, Old House History

Consider this advice on how to do an exorcism.  Or just consider me your ghostbuster.  For centuries we’ve heard tales of ghost, vampires and phantoms in old houses.  But, now they are taking over even newer homes with every new electric gadget we bring indoors.

What is Vampire Power?

Vampire power is that unnecessary energy load that is dripping like a leaky faucet from appliances that are not being used.  The good news is that it’s easy and cheap to kill and you can stop bleeding money and energy.

The conventional wisdom from the nerds at your utility company is to put your TV or computer and all of their peripheral toys on a power strip.  Then just simply turn off the power strip when you leave the house. Great idea . . . as long as you remember to turn off the damn strip.  Avoiding wasteful energy use shouldn’t be this hard.

With Christmas around the corner, a smart power strip is a must-have for anyone with a TV, entertainment center or computer.  A smart power strip will kill all those vampire loads.

How Smart Power Strips Work

A smart power strip has one outlet dedicated for a “control device”, like a TV, computer or stereo.  The other outlets on the strip are reserved for the peripherals, like an XBox, DVD player, printer, speakers or any other product from China that has no value when the main device is turned off.  When the main device is switched off, power is cut off to the other devices automatically.

For example, your 52″ flat screen TV would plug into your control outlet. All of your TV’s energy sucking pals would be plugged into the “switched” outlets.

Then, the smart strip acts as an electronic version of the wooden stake to a vampire.  When you click your TV remote “off” or your computer goes to sleep, all of it’s pals in the “switched” outlets are shut down too.

A good smart strip will also have one or two other outlets for things like lamps or phones that you don’t want to turn off.

Most major manufacturers of surge protectors and power strips now offer a model with the option of shutting down devices that are wasting energy.  The good news is that they are not more expensive than any quality power strip - usually between $20 - $80.  The better news is that a smart strip will pay for itself in less than a year with the money you save in electricity.  The bad news is that your friends will think your stupid if you don’t get one.

In an upcoming post, I’ll have some more information about some specific products to look for to help eliminate wasted energy in your home.  In the meantime, check out some of these smart strips and go buy yourself one today.

SmartStrip - the original smart power strip (you can also find these at K-Mart and

Belkin’s line of Conserve Smart products

Monster Cable’s line of GreenPower products at major retailers

Matt Grocoff is Old House Web’s Green Renovation Expert and host of Greenovation.TV and is a regular contributor to The Environment Report on public radio.  He and his wife Kelly have renovated their 110-year-old Folk-Victorian and it is currently the oldest home in America to achieve net-zero energy.  Learn more at and see videos about how to make your home more healthy, comfortable and energy efficient at www.Greenovation.TV


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  1. 2 Responses  to “How to Keep Vampires Out of Your House This Christmas”

  2. Roger
    Aug 29, 2011
    Surge protector! Keyword protector, a surge isn't good enough. Just had a buddy blow out his computer twice in the past three months due to power outages because of storms and he still hasn't learned.
  3. frank
    Aug 29, 2011
    Great product! I'll put this one on my Christmas list for sure.