Phyllis Theermann

Did you know that your house may be full of energy vampires? These “vampires” are appliances and electronics that continue to suck electricity even when they are switched off! The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimates that 10 percent of the electricity used in an average home is consumed by products that go into stand-by mode when not in use. According to ABC News, a typical family spends $120 dollars per year on the electricity used by vampire appliances such as cable and DVR boxes, and video game consoles.

This month, Wellesley’s Sustainable Energy Committee has launched a “Vampire Energy” campaign to help Wellesley residents identify these energy-wasting devices and stop them in their tracks! This campaign features conservation tips that will help Wellesley residents lower energy use and save money–and bring the town closer to the goal of lowering energy usage by 10 percent by 2013.

Wellesley Green Schools has created a homework assignment for the public, parochial, and private school students in kindergarten through grade 6 to coach their families in finding and zapping these “vampires.” Follow these simple steps to rid your home of energy vampires:

  1. Identify the energy vampires.

    Your entertainment system may be a big consumer. Also, look for appliances or devices (such as your microwave oven) that have an illuminated light, even when they are turned off. Some “vampires” are warm to the touch. Another easy way to identify vampires is to borrow a “Kill-A-Watt” meter from the Wellesley Free Library. Plug an appliance into the Kill-A-Watt meter to find out how much electricity is being lost. You can also get helpful tips online at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory web site and

  2. Pull the plug or use a power strip.

    Consider unplugging appliances or electronic devices that you don’t use very often. You can also plug the vampires into a power strip with a switch. The power strip can conveniently control a cluster of products such as an entertainment system; or a computer, printer, and scanner. (Cable boxes are big energy consumers, but are trickier to turn on and off.)

  3. Limit charging time and use timers.

    Once your laptop is charged, unplug it, or make sure you have it set to hibernate when you close the lid. Use timers for lights that you forget to turn off, especially during the upcoming holiday season.

  4. Shop wisely.
    Look for products with an Energy Star rating–most of these use very little electricity in “standby” mode.
Phyllis Theermann

Nothing says, “Welcome home” like a stack of junk mail!

Wellesley resident Jessica Langerman returned from vacation last month and faced a huge pile of unwanted catalogues, ads, and solicitations.

Jessica set to work and discovered that with a little determination, you can get off the commercial mailing lists that data brokers use to sell your personal information. You will no longer have to waste time handling unwanted mail, and you will be doing something positive for the environment. The production and distribution of bulk mail has a shockingly negative impact on the planet, contributing to deforestation, landfill mass, and the waste of billions of gallons of water.

There are a number of web-based organizations that can help you by removing your name from the databases of direct marketers.

Here are a few: offers a free service online–just go to the web site to sign up. The organization also offers a free app for the iPhone called MailStop Mobile, which allows you to take a picture of a piece of unwanted mail and upload it automatically. is another free iPhone app that allows you to simply take a photo of unwanted junk mail and automatically upload. is named for the 41 pounds of junk mail each American is estimated to receive every year. For a fee, this organization will contact 20 to 30 direct mail companies and have your name removed from their mailing lists.


The satisfaction of reclaiming your privacy while benefitting the environment could make opening your mailbox a little more pleasurable!

Phyllis Theermann

Many Local Businesses Have Signed up for Wellesley’s Power To Choose Program

Has yours?

Perhaps your office, studio, store, restaurant, etc. is wondering where to start or what they can do next to lower their carbon footprint?

Be the sustainable champion in your work environment.

Signing up for renewable energy is an easier start. Next you can learn how businesses have less impact with “green” paper supplies, office products, cleaning supplies and much more.

Learn more about what eco certification / cooperation can mean for you business at