Do Phantom Loads Haunt Your Power Bills? Here’s How to Prevent Them

Homeowners are in a never-ending quest on how to reduce their electricity bills. They rely on an electrician to identify power hoggers around the house and ensure the safety of the family from electrical hazards.

But if there’s one thing that keeps drawing electricity in our homes, it would be phantom loads. Phantom loads, also known as vampire power or standby power, refer to electricity consumed by electronic devices when in standby mode or turned off. If you’re unsure whether phantom loads are putting significant pressure on your power bills, read below to identify phantom loads and how to prevent them.

Evaluate the problem

If you need an idea of the electricity usage of every appliance and electrical device, you need to do a bit of research. Pay attention to power hoggers, such as computers, cable boxes, gaming consoles, and internet modems. Use a power meter to check the power usage and compare the numbers when in use and when turned off.

Another way is to go out of the house and check the utility meter to monitor the meter reading. Do this every day to give you an idea of the power usage pattern and determine if there are days you are using a considerable amount of electricity.

The next step is to unplug all unused electronics. Check the meter again to determine how much power you’re wasting every day from phantom loads.

Phantom Load

Unplug when not in use

The issue of phantom loads lies in one simple action: if it’s not in use, unplug it. This rule, however, doesn’t apply to electronics that don’t work properly if constantly unplugged. Of course, no one wants to reset the clock constantly or go through the hassle of plugging and unplugging the fridge!

We’re talking about TVs, microwaves, and desktops you can easily turn on and off when not in use. For battery-powered electronics, unplugging them will extend their battery life. If you are to be away for several days, consider unplugging the Wi-Fi router, internet modem, and cable boxes to save more energy and money.

Use power bars or smart strips

Plug all related electronics, such as the TV, DVD player, computer, printer, and modem into a single power bar. If you’re not using them all, you can switch them all off by unplugging the power bar.

Power strips are also a common way of reducing phantom loads. They look somewhat similar to extension cords, but the main difference lies in the distribution of power sources. If you want to increase the number of electrical outlets from a single source, the power strip does its purpose. Otherwise, use an extension cord if you need to stretch out the power source across distant appliances.

There are a variety of brands that offer programmable and customizable power strips fit for a variety of electricity usage. They all come with a single switch, which you can turn off if you want to unplug several electronics together. You can also try using a smart strip, an energy-saving version of a power trip. Traditional power strips handle different devices while using one outlet, but the devices remain plugged in while continuously consuming electricity. With a smart strip, you save energy by cutting off power use since it automatically shuts off once it detects the devices when not being used.

If power bars or smart strips aren’t all available, you can simply unplug any device when in standby mode or not in use.

Remove charged devices

Most of us have a habit of leaving our charging devices for hours on end. But leaving them fully charged for several hours also consumes electricity. If it becomes a habit by everyone in the house, it can take up a large portion of your power bills.

Unplug your smartphone, camera, laptop, tablet, and other portable devices when the battery is fully charged. This also applies to remote charging stations for recharging batteries used in small electronics and digital devices.

Determine prime sources of phantom loads

Electronic devices with digital displays or remote control are consuming more energy when turned off than other devices. You can easily solve this by using a power meter to determine which devices are the most notorious energy hogs even when switched off.

Another method for identifying phantom loads is shutting all lights at night. This way, the darkness will help you detect small, glowing LED lights around the house. Plus, any appliance that needs resetting after a power outage or source can be a possible culprit of phantom load.

Now you know how to eliminate scary phantoms around the house. You’ll eventually experience bigger savings on your succeeding bills. In the end, you’re saving not only money but also the environment.

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