Energy Efficiency

Phantom loads run up your electric bill and waste energy.

Phantom Loads Can Cost You $115 Each Year

Phantom loads, standby power or vampire loads are the technical terms referring to the hidden energy consumption of electrical devices and appliances that occurs when they are switched to the off or standby position.  Many people don’t realize that when devices or appliances are switched off they can continue to draw power simply because they are plugged in.  While many devices will draw electricity at a considerably reduced level, it is the constant unnecessary drain that adds up over time, similar to a leaky toilet.  In some devices, phantom power is used for convenient features such as remote controls, digital clocks, touch pads and instant-on functions, while other devices, such as power adapters, consume power without providing any additional benefits or features.

Phantom Loads Waste Precious Energy and Money

Coal fired power plant producing energyRecent studies have shown that phantom loads can contribute up to 10% of the electricity usage in an average household, a staggering statistic for completely wasted energy.  Electronic devices and appliances manufactured prior to 2010 can draw from several watts to tens of watts in standby mode. Each watt of continuous standby power equates to 9 kWhr of electrical consumption per year.  If you have one device that draws 10 watts in standby mode, it’ll cost you $10 or more per year on your electrical bill. Based on these numbers, reducing or eliminating phantom loads in your home can save, on average, about $115 per year.

Phantom loads occur in most electrical devices, including TVs, DVD players, audio or CD players, cable boxes, computers, kitchen appliances, transformers, power adapters and chargers.  Some brands and models operate more efficiently than others, depending on engineering and design.  Consider some of these energy hogs that you likely have in your home:

  • Computers in the “off” position but left plugged in, can draw up to 9 watts.  Computers in the sleep mode draw between 1 to 83 watts, averaging out at about 21 watts.
  • Printers can draw up to 6 watts when in the “off” position and 12 watts when switched on without operating.
  • Washers, driers, and dishwashers including the Energy Star models can draw up to 5 watts when switched off but left plugged in.
  • TV receivers, DVRs, cable and satellite boxes have a large phantom load ranging from 10 to 48 watts when switched off.
  • Audio systems can draw between 8 to 24 watts when switched off and sub-woofers alone draw an average of 10 watts.

In order to save money and reduce your carbon footprint, you need to learn how to reduce the electricity wasted in your home each day.  Phantom loads can be reduced or eliminated by the following ways:

  • Unplug your electronics and appliances when you are not using them.  When you plan to be away for a lengthy period of time, unplug everything that you can, including digital clocks, phone chargers, computer power supplies and remote controls or touch switches.
  • Using a power strip can be an effective way to switch off the many devices and appliances at one time.  We enable this tactic on our home entertainment systems, computers and some appliances.  Keep in mind that you can use a power strip with a timer built in that can help you save energy even when it slips your mind.
  • Replacing old devices and appliances with newer ones, manufactured after 2010, can be costly but helpful if you plan to upgrade anyway.  This is true due to the fact that many of those appliances adopted the “One Watt Initiative” restricting the power consumption of standby mode.  From 2013 onward, the new standard will be reduced to 0.5 watts, so if you plan on buying new devices and appliances in the future, be sure to review this information prior to purchasing.

Reducing phantom loads by unplugging electrical devices and appliances when they not in use, will not only save money on electrical bills but also will improve the environment.  Electricity is often produced by combustion of gas, coal or oil which releases a large amount of carbon dioxide, a major of cause global warming.  The burning of the fossil fuels also produces sulphur-dioxide a major cause of acid rain.  Until we have adopted a 100% renewable energy initiative it is important that we reduce our electrical consumption, helping Earth become a healthy place for future generations.

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