When your TV, computer, cellphone charger, and other appliances are plugged in, they are quietly using electricity. The federal government estimates that phantom power consumption accounts for 5 to 10 percent of residential energy use, costing the average household $100 per year. Because I test most the products in the exhibit at home, my “useless” consumption of electricity is much higher.
The average home contains 40 products constantly drawing power, according to the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Thankfully, there are many things that you can do to reduce your phantom power consumption, including:
Use Power Strips. When you turn off a power strip that ensures that power isn’t going to the electronic device or appliance. A strip in the family room could turn off the TV, DVD player, game system, and sound system. You probably don’t want to turn off the cable box, unless you enjoy resetting it. J
Buy Smart Power Strips. The basic smart power strip stops power to every connected device after you turn off the first appliance. Say you put one in your home office. When you powered down the computer – plugged into the first outlet – the strip could power off the printer, paper shredder, and phone charger.
Periodically Unplug Appliances. A good place to start would be the kitchen, where the toaster oven, microwave, blender, coffee maker, and other appliances draw some power even when not in use. You may want to avoid anything with a clock, since it would have to be reset.
Unplug Rechargers. Many people leave them hanging from wall sockets. They draw electricity even when no cellphone, tablet, or computer is attached.
Buy Products with Low Standby Power. Federal agencies are required to buy products with standby power levels of 1 watt or less. The Department of Energy keeps an online database of computers that qualify. Check out the Standby Power Data Center.
Buy Energy Star Appliances. The Department of Energy determined that 80% of EnergyStar appliances meet the 1-watt-or-less requirement. That’s true of audio/video equipment, televisions, and corded telephones.