Phantom loads could be hurting your wallet

Phantom loads are appliances and electronics that continue to draw power from electrical outlets, even when turned off. These appliances, also known as energy vampires, can significantly increase your energy usage and can end up costing you hundreds of dollars every year.  

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average American household owns 25 consumer electronic devices. These devices include everything from coffee makers to computers to cell phone chargers. Together these energy vampires are often responsible for adding 10 percent or more to your monthly utility bill. Here are a few quick fixes to help you eliminate these expenses:

  • Use power strips. Power strips are a great way to significantly reduce your phantom load. With the flip of a switch, you can cut power to devices currently not in use and it’s just as easy to restore power when you’re ready to use that device again. To make this change as easy as possible, try grouping appliances and electronics together on a power strip, but be careful not to overload your power strip. This simple step can save you a pretty penny. In fact, it’s estimated that by grouping just your plasma TV, cable box, DVR, and cable modem, you could save over $50 annually.

  • Unplug devices when you’re done using them. While this may not be a solution for items like your TV, refrigerator or desktop computer, it will work for a coffee maker, cell phone charger or hairdryer. By pulling the plug on these three items alone, you could save yourself around $4.50 a month. That’s $54 a year. When it comes to phantom loads, small changes can make a big difference.

  • Limit idle time on computers and video game consoles. For many, saving more than $100 a year can be as easy as changing the settings on your computer. Try setting your computers to sleep mode or saving your work and powering down instead of leaving it paused for a prolonged period. This simple change can quickly add up to big savings.

  • Make smart upgrades. When it comes time to replace older electronics and appliances, you should consider investing in ENERGY STAR certified models. They have a lower standby consumption than your average device and generally use less energy overall.

For more information on ridding your home of energy vampires and phantom loads, visit the U.S Department of Energy’s website.