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Avoid Scary Electric Costs — Banish Phantom Load

Posted on by Everything Energy 3 minutes

Many of the electronics in your home are adding to your electric costs — even when they’re not in use! “Phantom load” refers to the power used by electronic devices when in standby mode. It’s also called “vampire power.” 

How much does phantom load add to your electric costs?

Nobody knows for sure what percentage of electricity usage phantom load represents. Thus, it’s hard to say how much it adds to your average electric bill. However, the Standby Power Research at Berkeley Lab estimates that phantom load amounts to 5-10% of residential electricity usage. (Some estimates are even higher.) This may not seem like a lot on first glance. But reducing vampire power can help you drive down your monthly electric costs. 

Plus, it’s not just about our own waste. The National Resources Defense Council estimates that standby power use by inactive devices translates to the electricity produced from 50 large (500-megawatt) power plants. If we all reduced our own phantom load, even by a small amount, it would add up to a significant decrease of wasted power. And that’s great news for the planet’s health.

How do I know how much phantom load an item is using?

Some appliances and electronics use more standby power than others. You can use a watt meter to measure the amount of power an item uses in standby and working modes. (Some libraries even have these handy devices available for free checkout!)

If you know your electricity cost per kWh (kilowatt hour), you can use the watt meter reading to calculate how much you pay to run the device or appliance in both modes.

What are some ways to minimize vampire power?

To work toward your best electricity bill and minimize energy waste, try these solutions:


Maybe it’s not realistic to unplug all of your electronics when you’re not using them. But you could make it a habit to unplug a few to help lower your electric costs. Remember, every little bit helps both your monthly average electric bill and the planet. 

Items you can unplug when not in use include:


Use a surge protector power strip with an on/off switch for several electronics in an area. With one flip of the switch, all of the plugged-in items can be completely powered off while still remaining plugged into the power strip — with no standby energy consumed. To do this, you may need to reorganize the placement of some of your items that use standby power. However, it is a straightforward way to reduce phantom load and extra electric costs.

Wi-Fi smart power strips and smart plugs provide even more convenience as you combat energy prices. Some of these power strips can detect when plugged in items are not in use and stop sending electricity to them. Many let you control each plugged-in item individually with your mobile device or through voice command through Alexa or Google Assistant. 

How do I compare electricity rates to help ease my monthly electric costs?

Minimizing vampire power is just one trick you can use to help lower your monthly electric costs. Another is to compare electricity cost per kWh and other factors before you choose your next electricity plan. 

Everything Energy has the tools you need to make apples-to-apples comparisons with ease. That way, you can be confident you have the best energy plan for your needs. Try our personalized pricing search tool now!

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