What is Phantom Electricity?

Apartment ModernIt’s not as scary as the name claims, though the energy being wasted by these suckers is pretty frightening. Television, computers, game systems, etc.., we all have them.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t all electronic devices either need to be plugged into an electrical outlet or charger in order to function? Were you aware that these devices consume energy even after they have been shut off?

This energy use is referred to as vampire or (more commonly) phantom energy use.

Idle home electronics consume approximately 1-5 watts of energy. This may not seem like much and it is not in an isolated situation, but according to a report by the Consumer Technology Association, each home in America contains at least 24 electronic devices. Some have even more.  AND during the typical lifetime of a consumer product 75% of the electricity that it consumes if while its OFF.

All your devices are consuming stand-by energy just waiting and waiting for you to turn it on. The CEA estimates this accounts for anywhere between 4-7% of the average electric bill.





Even after these devices have been turned off, they are still contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. A few ways to get rid of this phantom energy include:

Unplugging – Consider how much time it takes for you to make some toast. Now consider how long it stays plugged in once you have finished using the toaster. Simply unplugging electronics that are no longer in use stops the flow of energy that is being pulled from the devices or buying a simple appliance switch.  

Best Time To Charge – Oftentimes, people wait until the end of the day, right before they fall asleep, to charge a phone or other portable electronic device. Doing this not only consumes power even if the device is shut off, but it puts a greater strain on the battery, draining residential power as well as the devices battery power. For devices that require a charger, it is best to charge them during the day so you can monitor their progress and immediately unplug.

Smart Power Strip – Power strips are a commonly found near entertainment systems and in home offices. Replacing the average power strips with smart power strips allow you to save energy. These devices sense a decrease in energy output, and shut off power to that device. Phantom power consumes residential energy without you even being aware. If you have a device with a “stand-by indicator” this is one way you can tell the device is continually using energy. For devices that are not as obvious, be sure to use these tips and you can reduce your residential energy use and cutting your carbon emissions.  



Here are a few small, inexpensive products that will help you save electricity and shave a few molecules off your carbon footprint. If used for a decade, it will add up to something meaningful.


Belkin Energy-Saving OutletOutlet Adapter With Switch by Miles Kimball, and OnPlug Power Saver (3 Pack)


Every time you flip that switch or pull that plug you are saving the United States some $4 billion in energy waste and pumping out a little less CO2 into the environment. So, simply FLIP the switch to a more sustainable lifestyle.  
A few other Green Blizzard articles you will want to read are:  Best Gifts For A Green Handyman,and Less Carbon Intensive Date Nights

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About the author

Danielle Jappah

Danielle brings a touch of southern US charm to our writing team.Since points of view on climate change vary depending on resources, economies, and political viewpoints of the region, we wanted a southerner to expand our point of view. The U.S. South has its own unique POV on climate change and Danielle writes from her office in Atlanta inspiring southern naysayers to wake up and recognize what happening everywhere.

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