Phantom loads – you may not have heard of them, but they’re almost certainly lurking in your home. Also known as vampire loads or the vampire effect, phantom loads occur when electronic devices continue to draw power even when they are turned off, but still plugged in. Televisions, computers, game consoles, routers, printers, and rechargeable power tools are common culprits; even though they may be turned off, their systems stay in standby mode – using power unnecessarily and wasting money. By some estimates, phantom loads comprise 6% to 10% of residential electricity consumption in the U.S. Even more amazing: according to the U.S. Department of Energy, household electronics in the average home consume 75% of their power while they are turned off. That’s a lot of waste and is easily avoidable.

Power up – and down – with power strips. Plugging devices into a power strip lets you to turn off the power to all of them with one switch. However, because turning off all connected devices may not always be desirable, consider using “smart” power strips. Much more practical than unplugging each device that’s not being used, a smart power strip senses when a printer or TV, for example, has gone into standby mode and will then cut the power to that device completely. Some smart power strips have one or more always-on outlets, which are perfect for your cordless phone base or other items that you need to keep powered up at all times. Using power strips is the most convenient way to minimize phantom loads almost anywhere in the house.

Unplug those chargers. Plug-in chargers continue to draw power even when they are not working to charge your cell phone, Bluetooth device, tablet, or smart phone. Though the amount of energy they use in this state is small, you’re still paying for it on every utility bill.

Think Energy Star. For appliances that need to be plugged in at all times or that would be impractical to turn off, such as refrigerators, freezers, or washing machines, Energy Star approved models will help reduce overall energy consumption in your home.

Limiting phantom loads in your home saves energy resources and can help extend the life of your devices – and will leave you with more money in your wallet at the end of the month.

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Source: 22nd Edition of CRS Consumer Article (October 31st, 2012) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection