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What is Phantom Energy Loss? PDF Print E-mail

Do you ever get up at night and find that you don’t need to turn on the light? You are guided by twinkling little lights, digital displays of various appliances and electronic devices. Only these devices are like vampires silently sucking away energy even when they are turned “off.” This wasted energy, known as standby or phantom energy loss, represents a relatively small but growing percentage of an individual home’s electricity use (about 5%), but taken across all U.S. households, adds up to an estimated 65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. Some of the biggest energy wasters in most homes are the adapters that come with rechargeable battery-powered cordless phones, cell phones, digital cameras and music players, power tools, and other electronic devices. Most draw power whenever they’re plugged into an outlet, regardless of whether the device battery is fully charged—OR EVEN CONNECTED. Other culprits include appliances or electronic equipment with standby capability (such as televisions and computer monitors), a remote control, and/or a digital clock display (such as microwaves, DVD players, and stereo systems).

So what can you do to stop it?

Unplug it! Unplug your phone, camera, Ipod, and/or power tool charger. Unplug your television and attached electronics. Figure out which devices are causing the most phantom energy loss and unplug them when they're not in use. To save yourself some hassle, plug all of your home entertainment system and computer components into a power strip. Just don't forget to flip the switch off when it's not in use. Unplug kitchen appliances with clocks. If you see a clock, then your kitchen device is using power. If possible, keep these appliances unplugged to prevent phantom energy usage. Surge suppressors still protect against power spikes when plugged in, even if switched off. Unfortunately, some devices such as battery backup systems and computer network servers must be left on at all times to ensure proper functioning.

Check the label. When buying an appliance or electronic device, choose the model that uses the least standby power. Choose Energy Star labels because they use less energy for both regular and standby operation. If standby power is not included on a given product label, check the U.S. Department of Energy’s online database of manufacturer-supplied information (see http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/technologies/buying_low_standby.html ).

Keep it simple. Avoid buying products that include “bells and whistles” you don’t need. Some of these extra features might waste energy

You can also check out the Kill-a-Watt meter to assess your "phantom power" from individual appliances.  This meter will help you figure out which appliance is the worst offender and how much it costs you to have it plugged in and running.

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