Phantom Loads

Are ghostly energy eaters haunting your home’s electrical system? These days, just about every room in the house contains modern conveniences, ready to serve us instantly, but these devices rely on electricity even when not in use. Consider, for
example, all the electronic entertainment products, pieces of office equipment, and small kitchen appliances that most people leave plugged into an electrical outlet all the time. Those little, glowing LEDs are one way to spot the culprits. Even in standby
mode, these devices draw power in the form of what we call “phantom loads.” Phantom loads started when remote control of devices became popular. As the word implies, phantom loads can not be seen or heard. They are just there, draining electricity and your wallet.

Power StripThe easiest energy saving measure you can take is just turning these devices off when not in use, and you don’t have to go around unplugging everything. By installing power strips strategically throughout the house, especially where devices are grouped closely together, you can turn off multiple items at the end of the day with just the flick of a switch. If they are not connected to the power source, they can’t take energy.


Where to start

The quickest way to start is with your home’s worst offenders for phantom loads. Those are typically entertainment systems. Cable boxes, video game systems, TVs, and audio systems, all silently steal from you. Your television is the prime example. Even when not in use, it will easily draw 10 watts, or even up to 45 watts, depending on its age and the model. An average LED bulb takes 8 watts. Therefore, leaving your television in standby mode for a year could be equivalent to leaving 6 LED lights on 24 hours a day for 365 days. Routers, phones and other related equipment are also energy vampires in your home. Of course, some items that use electricity must left on, such as your refrigerator, but most don’t need to be plugged in continuously.

Apply the 80/20 rule: 80% of the phantom loads are caused by 20% of your devices. You can also look at which devices are grouped together in your home.  Most likely your audio equipment is grouped together, and you can plug all these devices into one
Outlet Switchpower strip. You probably also have all your chargers in one place. Devices in your office, such as your computer, monitor, printer/scanner, desk lamp, fax, etc., are usually close enough to each other to use one power strip. For single devices that you can’t group together, consider a single outlet switch.


How much will you save?

The cost of phantom loads depends, of course, on how many devices you have in the house and how they were designed. As manufacturers have become more aware of phantom loads, newer devices might have a better design. However, we really
don’t know until we measure. You can do that yourself with a device called the “ Kill A Watt ” usage monitor.

The added advantage of knowing the real-time usage is that you can also determine if it’s is time for something like a new refrigerator by comparing the facts.

A great table can be found here provided by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This table provides an overview of the power consumption in standby mode for many products. Not all of your devices will be in the table, but you can get a
reasonable idea of how much phantom loads cost you every year. For example, an inkjet printer takes 2.48 watts when not in use. This inkjet printer would cost you 11 KWh per year, or $1.66, just by sitting there. The worst case television mentioned earlier would cost you $60 per year. That’s like leaving your car running in the garage just in case you need to go somewhere. While the $1.66 does not seem worth the effort of switching off, go ahead and do the math for all your devices and add them together. Before you know it, you’re at a $100 per year.

Next to your personal savings, think about the environmental benefits if all of us would switch off the unnecessary loads in our houses. Most likely, four or five power strips with do the job. With one flick of a power strip switch, at the end of the day, you can kill
these phantom loads and start lowering your energy bill.

You will find more energy reducing tips at our website. Let Belmont Solar help you end the Electric Bill “Shock” at the end of the month.
You can start by contacting us today by phone or email, or with our online form.