Beware the 'phantom load'

It’s not Halloween, but let’s talk about phantoms. Phantom energy loads, that is.

Many of your appliances and electronics consume power when plugged in, even when they are turned off. For example, many items require “standby power” to run clocks, such as coffee makers or microwaves. Others use power just to be ready for you to hit that “on” button, such as televisions. Gaming consoles, for example, run updates even when not turned on. And charging devices also consume small amounts of electricity long after your device is charged and even when there is no device plugged into the charger.

The Department of Energy estimates that the average home spends about $100 per year in phantom energy loads.

So what’s the best way to battle the phantoms? Don’t just turn your electronics and appliances off - unplug them, too.

  1. Plug in your television, cable box, game console, etc., to the same accessible power strip - that’s a lot easier than trying to dig around behind the television for the cord - so you can easily unplug them all when you head to bed for the night or off to work in the morning.
  2. Consider what appliances you really need to keep plugged in, and how easy it would be to just unplug when you’re done.
  3. If your phone or other device is charged, unplug the phone and the charger.

There are many other energy-saving tips on the Department of Energy website, www.energy.gov, or Energy Star’s website, www.energystar.gov, that can help save energy and save money.