What is Phantom Load?

Image of cell phone charging - Phantom load waste electricity tips from SESCOS

Get Rid of Phantoms and Vampires this Halloween

Halloween is a great time to start thinking about phantoms and vampires, but we don’t mean the kind that comes to your doorstep looking for candy.

Phantom load is sometimes called a vampire load. Whatever name you call it, it’s the same thing. The term refers to appliances and devices that continue to draw electrical current even when they’re turned off. You might not have given much thought to this trickle of wasted energy, but it could be costing you in terms of lost energy and higher bills.

How Does Phantom Load Happen?

Phantom load is the energy used to keep your TV settings, the lights, and clocks on your microwave and clock radio on. It’s essentially “standby energy” that allows these devices to be updated and ready to go. It’s convenient. But it comes at a cost.

You might not have worried about the energy you were wasting, even if you noticed that the device’s on lights or LED indicators were still glowing. After all, each one is only using a few watts, right?

Well, those watts add up over time. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, phantom energy could add up to 10 percent of your monthly electric bill. Added up across the country, that could represent billions of dollars every year that are lost to phantom energy. That’s a lot to pay for devices and appliances you aren’t even using.

You could be wasting hundreds of dollars every year to power devices that continue working while you sleep, go to work or travel.

What Devices Cause Phantom Load?

Anything with a remote control. These appliances use electricity 24-7, even if it’s not always at full power.

Appliances or devices with clocks. Do you really need a clock on every device or appliance in your home? The clock is the only reason they consume electricity that they use day and night.

Wall wart devices. If it’s plugged into a wall wart, it probably is losing the phantom load. This includes telephones, fax machines, calculators, hair dryers and some kitchen appliances.

Some typical offenders include:

  • Cable boxes
  • Internet modems
  • DVRs and VCRs
  • Answering machines
  • Faxes and printers
  • Rechargeable battery charges
  • Remote controls
  • Clock radios
  • Computers and laptops
  • Coffee makers
  • Televisions
  • Microwaves

That’s a lot of ghosts and ghouls that could be gobbling up your electricity. So how do you get rid of these unwanted vampires and start saving more of your money? Read on to find out.

Get Rid of Phantom Load

1. Turn off everything if you’re not using it. To make this easier, put your appliances and devices on power strips so you can turn off several at a time.

2. Unplug your microwave, coffee maker and other kitchen appliances. Set your computer and laptop on “sleep” mode or shut them down.

3. Add smart power strips. As their name indicates, these strips turn off appliances that aren’t being used. They also have the ability to maintain power to devices that need to stay powered on. They’re fully customizable to fit your lifestyle and energy needs. Ask a SESCOS electrician about how to find and install these smart strips.

4. If you go out of town, turn off and unplug everything while you are gone.

5. Conduct an energy audit. If you have a lot of appliances and devices running all the time, at the same time, you probably are losing a lot of phantom loads. Have a SESCOS electrician come out and test your appliances to see which ones are the worst offenders.

6. Always unplug chargers once your phone, tablet or other device is fully charged. Also, unplug the device itself. It doesn’t need to keep drawing energy if it’s fully charged. All of that is just wasted electricity.

Get Ghostbusting with SESCOS

If you’re concerned that you’re surrounded by energy-gobbling vampires and phantoms, who you gonna call? SESCOS, that’s who. Our electricians can help you determine what’s causing your phantom load and the best way to fix it. Stop handing out money like Halloween candy and call SESCOS today.

24/Hour Emergency Electricians | 703-777-6200