My friend Sue Heavenrich just started a wonderful new blog called Archimedes Notebook. This blog "for curious children and their parents" features hands-on science activities for kids and occasional book reviews. Be sure to check it out.
The following activity accompanies my Kids’ Ocean Acidification page.
Believe it or not, there are probably vampires lurking in your house right now. But these vampires don’t suck blood, they suck electricity. To find electricity-sucking vampires, turn off the lights and look for glowing digital displays. These displays may be simple glowing dots, or they may tell the time or give you information about the “vampire” device; for example, a telephone answering machine might tell you how many messages you have.
Now, turn the lights back on and look for power adapters, those little box-shaped objects that you plug in to charge items like cell phones and laptops. These adapters suck electricity even when they are not in use, and do not always have an associated light to indicate that they are drawing power.
Make a list of all the vampire devices you have in your house. Some of these, such as answering machines, need to be plugged in continuously to function properly. But others, such as coffee makers and many power adapters, do not. To save electricity and money, unplug vampire devices that are not in use. If you have a lot of vampire devices in one area, plug them into a power strip so you can switch off the power all at once.
Banishing electricity-sucking vampires is a great way to save energy. Here are some others:
1. Think before you buy. Yes, that new toy looks cool, but are you really going to play with it? Before you make a purchase, decide whether the item is something you really want or need. And if you own something you don’t want or need anymore, don’t throw it away, recycle it!
2. Ride public transportation, share a ride, walk or ride your bike. You’ll have more fun and get more exercise.
3. Replace energy-hogging traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and turn off the lights when you leave a room. Remember, light bulbs suck electricity too!
To learn more about vampire power (also known as standby power or phantom load), visit the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory website. For more ways to save energy, visit the US Department of Energy website.