Computers, printers, cell phone chargers, TVs, hair dryers, cable TV boxes, digital cameras, microwave ovens, DVD players and video game consoles all draw power when they’re turned off but still plugged in to wall outlets. In fact, a quarter of the energy used by your TV each year is consumed when the TV is off, according to Colgate University.
So, yes, even though you dutifully power down your computer before bed each night, like many of your other consumer electronics, it still sucks power. Thus the nicknames of “phantom load,” “energy vampire” and “secret energy addicts.”
Greenlivingapartments.com reports that the phantom load in the average household consumes 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. That’s enough energy to power an entire home for two months, or more.
John Schueler of the U.S. Department of Energy writes: “With the average American household owning 25 consumer electronic devices, you can begin to see how these phantom loads can translate into a significant chunk of your energy bill.”
But the good news is you don’t have to run around plugging and unplugging 15 different devices twice a day. A nifty device called a power cord or power strip houses a row of outlets, and by hitting one toggle switch, you can turn them all off. A “Smart Strip” Smart Strips is a bit more expensive but does the work automatically, easily slaying your Energy Vampire.
Unplugging your electronics also helps the environment. Phantom-load consumption equates to approximately 500 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions a year per household where the electricity is generated primarily through the burning of coal, writes Michael Bloch at GreenLivingTips.com.
“We could knock 1 percent of the amount of carbon dioxide being spewed into the atmosphere just by switching appliances and devices off at the wall when not in use,” Bloch writes.
Three other handy energy-saving tips from GreenApartmentLiving.com:
1. Swap out incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs. CFs use about 66 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer.
2. Turn down your thermostat by two degrees in the winter (and up two degrees in the summer). You’ll save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide this year.
3. Switch to cold-water washing and save 80 percent on laundry energy.