Blog > Science and Transportation > How to Save Energy by eliminating Phantom Loads RSS

How to Save Energy by eliminating Phantom Loads

Raised Garden Beds in the Eartheasy Store

Join the Eartheasy Community

Sign up for our Newsletter:

* indicates required

You might not know it, but there’s an invisible thief which may be stealing your energy and boosting your energy bills. His name: Phantom Load…

By Eartheasy Posted Feb 9, 2010

smart-power-strip As long as they’re plugged in, all electronic devices – anything with a clock, timer, adaptor, memory or remote control – continue to draw power even when they’re not in use. Since most homes today have multiple electronic devices, the energy loss from phantom loads, also referred to as ‘vampire loads’ or ‘standby power’, can be significant.

Electronics which remain on standby mode, where capacitors are filled with energy and ready to turn on the TV, etc, can use almost as much energy as being fully on.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 75 percent of the electricity that powers home electronics is consumed while these devices are turned off! Most home electronics use ‘standby power’ even when they’re switched off.

Here are five easy but effective ways to reduce your phantom load:

1. Use ‘smart strips’ or power bars

Plug all your related electronics, like your TV and DVD player, satellite TV box, computer, modem and printer, into a single power bar, then switch them all off at once from the power bar when you’re not using them. A newer type of power strip called the smart strip can make this even easier. Use one with your computer or TV, and it turns off all the peripheral devices automatically. When you turn on your computer or TV, the peripherals will all turn on.

Another option, if you do not have a power bar, is to simply unplug any electronic device which is not in use.

2. Identify the prime sources of phantom loads

kill-a-watt Some electronic devices, especially those which have remote control and digital displays, use more energy when switched off than others. Inexpensive home power meters, such as the Kill-a-Watt, will identify which electronic devices are the biggest energy drains when switched off.

Another method for finding phantom loads is turning off all lights at night and looking for any small LED lights which are glowing in the house. Also, any device that requires resetting after a blackout or power surge is a likely cause of phantom load.

3. Unplug charged electronic devices

Unplug your cell phone, camera and any other chargers as soon as the battery is fully charged. Unplug any remote charging stations, such as those used for recharging batteries used in digital cameras and small electronics.

4. Use ‘sleep’ mode instead of a screensaver

Contrary to popular belief, the screensaver on your computer does not save energy. If you’re leaving your work station for more than a few minutes, enable the “power-save” or “sleep” mode on your computer.

5. Buy electronics and appliances with the Energy Star label

If you’re in the market for a new TV or other electronic device, look for one with the Energy Star label. They use up to 50% less energy than less-efficient models, while providing the same performance.

By eliminating phantom loads in the home and office, you can save up to 10% on your energy bills. And the process of identifying phantom loads increases awareness of overall energy-efficiency in the home.

Posted in Science and Transportation Tags
  • nice post dude .. just now only i realized the why to Use ‘sleep’ mode instead of a screensaver

  • Ed Harris

    Thanks for the good tips. I'm always leaving the cell phone in too long after recharging and leave the computer on all night sometimes.

    Maybe time to make some changes. Thanks for the tips.

  • Mary

    This is a really good article – I knew that devices on stand by were a power drain but I didn't realise just how much energy we are wasting this way. I think we are all getting so lazy that we can't be bothered to even switch things on and off properly anymore! I go round thehousr switching things off after my kids as they don't even seem to think about it. I am going to make them read this.

  • earthwarrior


    I have a million things I could be unplugging that I don’t.

    Power strips make it easy too by just enabling you to unplug the whole thing when you are done. Zero chance of any electricity “escaping” plus zero chance of your computer or something being fried in a surprise electrical storm when you’re not there.

  • Jack

    Printers are one of the office equipment that is kept plugged in even after office hours or worse even on weekends. This should be minimized or totally stopped to save energy.
    hp laser toner

  • David Frasier

    A satellite box should *not* be unplugged. That's how the service techs tell you to reset the device when you're having a problem. Once plugged in again you have to wait for the box to rescan for all the channels. Further after a certain number of days, the card with deactivate.

    You need to give people accurate information, so they'll follow through with saving energy and continue the practice.

  • jake101goodale

    Too bad the TV box can’t be unplugged. It literally takes 5 minutes to reset up when its unplugged and plugged back in.

Blog > Science and Transportation > How to Save Energy by eliminating Phantom Loads