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Phantom Energy

Energy phantoms steal your money

Many of your appliances actually are on when they're off. These sneaky phantoms live inside many of your appliances and quietly use energy even when the appliances are not in use. Eliminating these phantoms will save you money on your energy bills.

Who are these phantoms?

Energy phantoms include common household appliances that use timers or memory chips to keep everything programmed correctly. Look for appliances with clocks, such as microwave ovens, DVD or CD players, stereos or coffeemakers, as well as televisions, computers, monitors, printers and game consoles that turn on without needing to warm up. Also on the list are box-like transformers for electronic devices, such as chargers for wireless phones, MP3 players or digital cameras.

How do phantoms work?

In order to keep features like clocks and timers working or to have appliances ready to go when you turn them on, these phantoms need electricity to stay on, even if what they run is off.

As long as these appliances are plugged in, the phantoms are using electricity.

How much are phantoms costing me?

The amount of energy each phantom uses may be small. Put together, the energy use can be high.

There may be 20 or more phantoms living in the average home. If they're all plugged in, it could cost the homeowner hundreds of dollars each year in energy costs.

Reduce Phantom Energy

While it may not be practical to eliminate every one of them, it may be possible to reduce their number.

  • Unplug the charger after your electronic device is fully charged.
  • Put some of your electronics such as stereos or computers on a power strip that can be turned off when not in use. There are now smart power strips available that can completely power off appliances automatically.

How much money do energy phantoms cost you?

These standard household products use energy even when turned off. You can calculate how much phantom loads are costing you in an average month by finding the items you use and adding them up. The average total amount of phantom load can be eliminated from your monthly electric bill by simply unplugging these items when not in use.

To calculate an estimate of what your energy phantoms are costing you montly, enter the number of each item you own in the Quantity column. The table will populate with the average cost per month for that item, and a total will tally for you at the bottom of the table.

Click underlined column headings to sort.
Product Avg Watts Avg kWh
Per Month
Avg Cost
Per Month
Quantity Total
Chargers & power cubes (misc) 2.0 1.44 $0.13
Cable TV receiver (converter boxes,
non-cable ready TV)
12.5 9.00 $0.81
CD player 1.0 0.72 $0.06
Central vacuum 0.1 0.06 $0.01
Clock (wall, desk) 3.5 2.52 $0.23
Carbon monoxide sensor 1.6 1.15 $0.10
Computer-inkjet printer 7.6 5.47 $0.49
Computer-laptop 3.5 2.52 $0.23
Computer-laser printer 0.2 0.14 $0.01
Computer-modem 3.5 2.52 $0.23
Computer-monitor 6.9 4.97 $0.45
Computer-desktop 7.5 5.40 $0.49
Cordless-phone 2.5 1.80 $0.16
Cordless-vacuum 2.3 1.66 $0.15
Digital cable (extended cable or HD) 26.0 18.72 $1.68
Dishwasher 1.8 1.30 $0.12
Doorbell 5.0 3.60 $0.32
DVD player 1.0 0.72 $0.06
DVR/Tivo 37.0 26.64 $2.40
Electric shaver 0.6 0.43 $0.04
Electric toothbrush 1.6 1.15 $0.10
Fax machine 9.3 6.70 $0.60
Flashlight (rechargeable) 2.9 2.09 $0.19
Garage door opener 2.5 1.80 $0.16
Ground fault interrupter outlet 0.1 0.06 $0.01
Invisible pet fence 25.0 18.00 $1.62
Microwave 3.0 2.16 $0.19
MP3 player 1.0 0.72 $0.06
Multi-function printer/scanner/copier 6.0 4.32 $0.39
Oven 3.0 2.16 $0.19
Phone-answering machine 3.5 2.52 $0.23
Phone-cell phone charger 2.4 1.73 $0.16
Power & garden tool chargers 4.0 2.88 $0.26
Radio-alarm clock 3.3 2.38 $0.21
Radio-portable 3.1 2.23 $0.20
Radio-stereo (component) 1.6 1.15 $0.10
Radio-stereo mini system 16.2 11.66 $1.05
Satellite TV receiver 12.0 8.64 $0.78
Stove 2.6 1.87 $0.17
Surge protector 0.3 0.22 $0.02
Tape deck (component) 4.4 3.17 $0.29
Timer (lamp, pool etc) 1.5 1.08 $0.10
TV-CRT 1.0 0.72 $0.06
TV-Plasma 3.0 2.16 $0.19
TV-LCD 3.0 2.16 $0.19
USB hub (external) 1.0 0.72 $0.06
VCR 5.3 3.82 $0.34
Video game console 1.0 0.72 $0.06
Washing machine (electronic) 4.8 3.46 $0.31
Wireless computer router 2.0 1.44 $0.13
 
Total number of energy phantoms and estimated monthly cost

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