Whether you realize it or not, there are vampires in your house right now, sucking away at your most important resources. We’re not talking about vampire bats, kids, or even metaphorically about the stars of Jersey Shore sapping your time, but vampire power devices, which consume electricity even when they’re turned off.
Cell phone chargers typically make the list, but AT&T struck back at the nibbling nuisances on Wednesday with the Zero charger, which consumes absolutely zero electricity when turned off. It works by automatically disconnecting the charging circuit when there’s no phone connected, eliminating the wasted power that typically comes from keeping it idle. To work with existing phones, it offers a single USB port to accept the charging cables that typically come with modern devices.
Although “phantom power” devices typically consume under one watt, because many households host a multitude of them, and they run 24 hours a day, AT&T estimates the wasted electricity could power 24,000 homes for a year. On a smaller scale, the difference becomes almost impossibly subtle: Even assuming a charger consumes one full watt when not in use – a fairly hungry charger by manufacturers’ own standards – and is left in an outlet every single day for a full year, it would consume about $1 worth of electricity per year, at average U.S. utility prices.
AT&T hasn’t yet announced pricing for the Zero charger, but it will arrive in retail stores and online in May.