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

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.

Responses (8)