How to Decrease Phantom Power Consumption

Phantom power or vampire power is responsible for about 10 percent of the energy loss in your home, costing approximately $3 billion dollars annually for the the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Energy. But what is phantom power and how do you stop its energy sucking evil? Phantom power is energy consumed by electronic appliances such as TVs, DVD players, video game systems, coffee makers and computers while they are in standby mode or even turned off. If you can turn it on with a remote control, it's using phantom electricity. If it has an LED light display -- whether it's a clock or just a single bulb -- it's using phantom electricity. Your cell phone charger, iPod charger and laptop charger are all using electricity even when they are not connected to the device. And if they are using electricity, they are costing you money and draining the Earth of valuable resources.

Go through your home or apartment and unplug any appliance that is not in use, including lamps, radios, TVs and computers. TVs, especially newer, big plasma TVs are the largest consumers of phantom energy.

Monitor your chargers. Rather than plugging your cell phone in at night before you sleep, charge it during the day and watch to see when it has reached a full charge and then unplug it. There's no benefit to charging a fully charged phone or laptop, and most do not need six hours or more to charge fully. Unplug your chargers when not in use. They are still drawing energy.

Charge when you need it. While your laptop may have a brighter screen when you use it while it's plugged in, you don't need to charge it while you're using it.

Invest in surge protectors. Not only do they protect your electronic appliances from electrical surges such as lightning strikes, they also shut off electricity consumption while turned off. They are also a convenience. Rather than reaching behind your entertainment system in the labyrinthine tangle of wires and cables to unplug your TV and surround sound, plug each appliance into a surge protector and turn the surge protector off when you're not using them. There are some surge protectors on the market now that operate from motion sensors. When the sensor detects no movement in the room, it shuts off the surge protector. Of course, this doesn't work if you have pets.

Invest in energy-efficient appliances. Every year, more eco-friendly appliances hit the market, saving energy and increasing efficiency as well. Many of these appliances are tackling phantom energy leaks as well. While these appliances are more expensive, they pay off in the long run.

Things You Will Need

  • Surge protectors About 20 minutes


  • As a general rule, don't leave anything plugged in unless you are using it.