energy efficiency | illinois

Pull the Plug on Phantom Loadarrows

It’s easy to stop phantom load from adding to your electric bill; you just have to know where to find it.

Plugged in, appliances and chargers use electricity whether they’re on or not. This wasted power is called phantom load. Phantom load costs American consumers more than $3 billion a year and adds up to the output of several power plants. More than 50 percent of the electricity used to power most electronics is used while they’re off. This accounts for 4 to 7 percent of every home’s electricity usage. Save some green by turning off and unplugging what you can; you may be able to reduce your home’s phantom load by as much as a third.

For the tangle of cords and power converters behind a stereo system and computer, get a power strip. By turning off the power strip, you’ll power off all components at once.

Items most likely to have phantom load are those that:
  • Use remote controls – Stereos, VCRs, DVD players, window air conditioners and TVs.
  • Have digital displays or clocks – A clock on some appliances makes sense; a clock on others doesn’t. Plugging these types of appliances into on/off switches makes better sense. If the VCR hasn’t been used in a while, unplug it.
  • Require external power supply – Look for electronics using power cords with boxes and lights, like laptop computers, printers, video game units and modems. These power supplies usually stay on after the electronic device is off.
  • Use battery chargers – Some chargers stay on regardless of whether they’ve finished or not. Unplug a cell phone, MP3 player, laptop computer, power tools and other small rechargeable electronics when not in use.
Look for ENERGY STAR®-qualified products and others with no or low standby power consumption when replacing or buying new appliances.


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ENERGY STAR refrigerators use at least 15 percent less energy than currently available standard models, and ENERGY STAR freezers use at least 10 percent less energy than currently available standard models. Learn More