Vampire appliances: are they draining your business’ energy supply?

Vampire Appliances - British Gas Business

This Halloween, parents and business owners alike will be on the lookout for fearsome creatures, but there may already be an energy-sucking terror in your homes and businesses.

When you turn off many electrical devices, they go into standby mode and continue to draw power – power that can account for as much as 9-16% of your electricity bill. These are known as vampire devices.

The latest research from Carbon Trust shows that the average business uses 10-40% more energy than it needs to. To put this into context, 20% of unnecessary energy usage, if avoided, could equate to as much as a 5% uplift in sales performance for your business. So which appliances do you need to watch out for?

Desktop vs Laptop

Desktop PCs can drain electricity without you even using them. Opt for a laptop instead; thanks to a smaller screen and components, it uses up to 85% less electricity over a standard year. It also reduces standby, which could save your business up to £16 per year.


Most businesses will require a good, reliable printer – even if they’re not office-based. But if you opt for a laser printer for high-quality, fast output, be aware that they use more energy than ink jet equivalents – both in printing and on standby. In fact, the average laser printer uses one-third of its printing energy while on standby – roughly 100W for an 8-page-per-minute model. While fax machines are constant vampires as they need to be left on for incoming calls. Choose a multifunctional printer to cut down on standby energy usage. These also offer more for your business in the way of emails, faxing, photocopying, printing and scanning. And, of course, if you’ve got a laser printer-scanner, turn it off when you’re not using it.

Fridges, freezers and fridge -freezers

These white goods are often switched on 24 hours a day, seven days a week – so it’s well worth choosing models which are energy efficient. Choosing an A+ fridge-freezer for the communal kitchen could save you around £57 in energy bills over the lifetime of the product. But don’t forget, as energy rating is based upon classification by size, a smaller A-rated fridge could save you even more. Commercial fridge freezers use more energy than domestic models. However, you may be able to cut the amount of electricity they eat up:

• Choose a model that doesn’t self-defrost if you can. Self-defrosters tend to use more energy
• Use thermal covers for display lighting at night
• If you’re running two fridges, empty one into the other and turn the former off


Large meetings may warrant a large screen, but a plasma TV won’t do any favours for your energy bill; it uses 658kW per year on average. Why not choose an LCD TV instead, which uses 199kW on average – potentially saving your business £66 per year.

The antidote

Unlike traditional vampires, there is a way to keep energy-sucking appliances at bay.

Power strips will allow you to toggle the power flow on and off, meaning you can control the power usage of clusters of devices so that they’re not consuming electricity when you’re not around.

Meanwhile, implementing a power management feature will reduce energy waste by switching computers into a low-energy state at a specified period of time.

Many businesses also use a programmable time clock, which ensures lights are turned off at the end of the day – these are known to reduce electric lighting costs by up to 20%.

Read our winter guides to saving business energy:

Energy savings checklist

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