Vampire Power is the electricity that consumer electronics waste when they are plugged in and not turned on. In the case of handheld consumer electronics (such as phones and digital cameras), the wall chargers waste power, even when the actual device isn’t connected to them.
Recently AT&T began selling the Zero Charger that shuts itself off when a device is not connected. This made me wonder how significant vampire power is, so I did some quick math…
Taking the new iPhone 4 as an example, I assumed that the typical iPhone charger spends 4 hours a day charging an phone, 8 hours a day plugged into a fully charged phone, and 12 hours a day with no phone plugged in. The iPhone charger uses 0.4 Watts per Hour when no phone is plugged in, and 2.24 Watts per Hour when plugged into a fully charged phone. Apple sold 3 million iPhone 4’s in their first month. That equates to 25 Gigawatts Hours per year, which is approximately $3Million dollars of wasted electricity. And that’s for just 1 month of sales of one SKU!
Apple sells it’s charger for $29 vs $19 for the Zero Charger from AT&T, so clearly it would be possible for Apple, HTC, RIM, etc… to bundle smart chargers with their new products and save a SIGNIFICANT amount of electricity. What if Best Buy mandated that after some date they would only sell mobile products that were bundled with smart chargers?
Even lower hanging fruit are all the chargers that retailers use inside their own stores. In the United States alone, there are almost 500,000 cell phones available for demonstration. The overwhelming majority of those are connected to merchandising systems (many of which I helped invent) that also permanently connect the phones to an inefficient charger. Best Buy and Walmart could save a dramatic amount of energy just by using smart chargers in their own stores and/or mandating that vendors use smart chargers in their products.