Phantom Loads are electrical energy draws from turned off, plugged in electronic devices. Phantom loads also occur when plugged in devices are in stand-by modes. Practically anything you leave plugged in uses energy even when it isn’t on. Some devices that bring up digital displays when they’re turned off draw in more energy than when they are on! So, how can you stop this useless use of energy that gets added to your utility bill without breaking your back by unplugging every single plug? Plugging electronics into power strips provides you with an off switch that actually does turn everything off and stops it from drawing energy. You could, for example, plug your whole entertainment system into a strip and be able to turn all of it off with one click when not in use. Some of these power strips even have built-in surge protectors. These help prevent your devices from being harmed by the extra strain of rouge increases of voltage. There are also fancy power strips that have a master control plug—if the device connected into this plug is turned off, electricity is automatically cut off for the whole strip.
If you are purchasing new appliances or electronics, be sure to research your options and look to see if there are any appropriate Energy Star products. These products use less energy to operate and also normally have smaller phantom loads.
By using power strips to truly turn off your electronics when not in use, you can not only save on your annual utility bill, but decrease the use of energy in your home, thereby becoming more energy-efficient! A goal of ours at Stearns is to include helping you locate and correct areas of excessive Phantom Loads in our Home Energy Audits.