Phantom Load

The Better Planet The term phantom load (also known as standby power or vampire power) is used to refer to the amount of power used by an electronic device while it is off or in standby mode. Electronic devices use around 10-15 watts when in standby mode and the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 75% of the electricity used in a residential home comes from phantom loads. Typical products that draw phantom loads are:
  • Power adapters without an on/off switch.
  • Devices with remote controls. For example, televisions, DVD players and stereos.
  • Devices with a constant digital display. For example, digital clocks, toaster ovens and DVD players.
  • Kitchen appliances.
  • Devices with rechargeable batteries. For example, phone chargers use energy whenever their plugged in, even if they're not charging.
With possibly dozens of devices in a home drawing a phantom load, how does one go about combating the energy vampires? Here are some tips to reduce your phantom load:
  • Use a power switch/strip with an on/off switch. Turning off the power switch will turn off all devices plugged into it.
  • Unplug rarely used devices.
  • Buy Energy Star products. You can find a list of the top selling Energy Star products on our Green Products page.
  • Unplug devices when you will be away for a few days.
  • Use "smart" power switches such as the Isole' Power Strip and the Smart Strip.
  • Identify appliances using the most phantom power with a device such as the Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor.