Ask the energy advisor

Phantom of the operation

Posted on Sep 01 2019 in LaGrange County REMC
Energy Advisor

Just like a stage performance of an opera, there’s a lot going on behind the curtain. 

For your electronic appliances, what’s behind the curtain is the energy it takes to keep these devices running while waiting for you to return. This is called “phantom load.”

If you are like my family, then you have computers, cell phones, game consoles, TVs, DVD players, countless chargers and a bevy of other electronics plugged into your outlets, waiting for you to return to use them. What most homeowners are unaware of is the added load, or phantom load. It adds to your monthly use and, likewise, your bill. To give this some perspective, I’ll give you an example from the home of one of our members.

This member lives with a couple of teenagers who love to play video games. They have four different game consoles plugged in to a power strip as well as a 52-inch TV, a DVD player and the satellite receiver. 

I placed a kilowatt meter on the end of the power strip to measure the use of these devices while they were in their standby mode — not unplugged, just ready to be turned on. The power strip was likewise in the “on” position. We left the meter for one hour and then read the results. 

The projected use for the current setup costs the home owner nearly $30 per month. Now, obviously, the teens are going to play the system when they are home, so the savings isn’t quite going to add up to a full $30 per month. But every little bit helps. 

Don’t hesitate to unplug devices or turn off the power strips to devices that aren’t in operation. Doing so can save you hundreds of dollars per year.