Zap Phantom Loads to Save Energy

| April/May 2006

Once upon a time, when you turned off an appliance, it was off. Now many appliances (especially ones with remote controls, clocks or microprocessors) are designed with 'standby' features, which means they're ready for action at a moment's notice. It also means they're constantly drawing electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Every year, US consumers waste an estimated $4 billion on these phantom loads, which amounts to about 5 percent of the country's total electricity load, according to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

If you're serious about conserving energy, find those phantoms, which include computers, TVs and other appliances with plug-in wall cubes, remote-controls or clock displays.

Use these four tips to zap phantom loads at your house and reduce global carbon emissions:

1. Use power strips (available at hardware and discount stores) that let you unplug several appliances by flipping a single switch. This is especially important for TVs, VCRs, microwaves and computers, which are the worst culprits.

2. Unplug appliances when you're not using them.

3. Plug the offending appliances into sockets controlled by a wall switch.

4. Use clocks powered by rechargeable batteries.

5. When buying new appliances, choose models with the lowest standby power consumption.

You'll save on energy bills and help save the planet when you banish these furtive phantoms from your home. For more information, visit Berkeley Lab's Standby Power Home Page.
5/19/2006 12:00:00 AM

Instead of a battery clock, I would recommend the old fashioned wind up kind. I have lived off the grid for several years and can verify that what the author says in this article is fairly accurate. Don't forget to change your lightbulbs also, that is another small, low cost way to save alot on your utility bill.

KT Bug
4/30/2006 12:00:00 AM

The web site is a great addition to the magazine......THANKS!This is to change my e-mail address from my previous subscription.

Tim Bowen
4/28/2006 12:00:00 AM

We were keeping track of our daily kwh and we were using about 100 per day. When we shut off the power strips on our TV, VCR, Dish Box , Microwave and computer our daily usage dropped to below 50 a day usually about 44. Thanks for the tip.

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