How to Reduce Phantom Power
Lower your electricity bill by smartly managing your plugs
By Kaye Morris
Many electronic devices continue to draw power even when not in use. Energy drawn by the standby mode sometimes is referred to as a "phantom load." An estimated 50 percent of the energy used by an electronic device is drawn while the device is not in use, making phantom loads responsible for 4 to 7 percent of your total electricity use. Phantom loads can be reduced in many ways, some of them for little cost or free.
- What You Need to Know
- Take advantage of electrical power strips that allow you to plug in multiple items and shut them all down with one central switch.
- Chargers continue to draw energy from your electric source even when they aren't charging a separate device. Get in the habit of charging your laptop, cell phone, and other electronics at night, and unplug chargers during the day.
- Phantom energy is also referred to as "vampire" energy.
Unplug appliances and electronics when they are not in use. Attach multiple devices to a single power strip for an easy way to turn all of them off at once. Cube-shaped plug-in devices are estimated to be 60 to 80 percent inefficient when plugged in. Relocate those devices to a power strip. Remember to unplug battery-charging devices when the batteries are fully charged.
Use an electronic power controller to regulate the amount of power delievered to a device's motor. Many appliances, especially older models, have motors that create a continuous draw on energy that often exceeds the appliance's needs. The bigger the gap between the energy an appliance uses versus the amount of energy it draws on standby creates an avenue for savings.
Replace old appliances and electronics with new, energy-efficient models. Products with the Energy Star rating use up to 60 percent less energy than other products. Research products to find ones with the lowest standby power demands. A watt meter can help you decide which products to replace first. Plug in the watt meter, then plug the appliance or electronic device into the meter. Turn the appliance or electronic device on, then off, and the meter will show how much energy is used.
Turn off your monitor even if you don't want to power down your computer. Your monitor leaches energy, even in standby mode. You may save up to $100 per year if you switch off your monitor when you're not using your computer. Remember to unplug your laptop, too.
Lower the brightness levels on your television and on your computer monitor. Most of the time, it won't affect your ability to see the images clearly and you will save money. In addition, look for an Energy Star rating when purchasing a television or other appliances that you don't want to unplug each time you're done using it.
Remember to unplug the small items, too. While it's easy to remember to unplug space heaters and countertop mixers, you may forget that your cell phone charger and your PDA charger are draining small amounts of energy when they are not in use.
About the Author
Kaye Morris has 20 years of real estate development experience and is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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