The Electricity bill begin to stack up this can become a nuisance as you’re paying more than expected and In the vernacular of professional electronics gurus, there exists a term known as “standby power.”

For the less electronically inclined, the term is usually called the “phantom load”. Whichever name the phenomena goes by, it is something that, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory accounts for up to 10 percent of the electricity that is used in most homes on an annual basis.

What is a Phantom Load and Where Does it Come From?

A phantom load isn’t really phantom at all, in that it is real. There aren’t any ghosts involved here. In the most basic sense, it is simply electricity that is being used by an appliance all of the time, even when the device in question is not being used for its intended purpose.

The culprits that cause this extra electricity usage are things like “instant on” televisions, microwaves with continuous displays, remotely controlled appliances, telephone answering machines, sound systems, and others.

Appliances with built-in electronic timers, remotely controlled power supplies, or continuous displays are the ones that use electricity, even when they aren’t being used by you. See? No phantoms, just science.

How Much is Phantom Loading Costing Me on My Electric Bill?

Some estimates range as high as $10 per month. Of course, many factors impact this. Bigger homes with more appliances will probably have more costs associated with phantom loading than smaller homes.

Homes outfitted with lots of electronic equipment will also be paying more. Televisions are typically the most costly in terms of phantom loading, followed by sound systems and microwave ovens.

An average television with an “instant on” feature can cost between $1.50 and $3.00 per month. Sound systems and microwaves typically cost about half that much.

How Can I Save Money on My Electricity Bill?

In order to reduce the cost of your electric bill due to phantom loading, you have to disable the electricity to the suspect appliance completely. Simply turning if off will not help. If you decide to do this, it is important that you use a power strip rather than unplugging the cord from the wall outlet.

Neither the cords or the wall outlets are designed for continuous plugging and unplugging. A good power strip with a simple on-off switch is the way to go. It is safe and convenient and it will stop the flow of electricity to the appliance completely, thus saving you money on your electric bill each and every month.

Saving Money on Your Electric Bill Due to Phantom Loading Means Making Choices

Certain appliances are far too important to worry about the costs associated with having them burn electricity in the background. Things like telephone answering machines and weather radios come to mind. For some, even the coffee pot that has the java ready and waiting for them every morning is too important to consider as a potential savings opportunity.

Other things in the home, like the previously discussed “instant on” televisions, microwave ovens and others may not be as important and you may find it easy to do without their phantom load generating features.

By playing around with it a little, you will be able to determine which of the phantom load bandits in your home you can do without and which you can’t. And, remember, if you do it right, the electricity is only a flip of a switch away, so don’t let that small matter dissuade you from the possible money savings effects this will have on your next electricity bill.


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