Phantom Loads: The Vampires in Your Home

There is something scary lurking behind our walls while we're sleeping! Vampires! Vampire plugs, that is. Sometimes called "phantom loads," "standby power," or "leaking electricity"), it's the electricity that your electronics keep sucking when they are turned off, but still plugged into the wall. The pennies and dimes and dollars are slipping into the hands of the power company as you sleep.

Some of the worst culprits are VCRs, TVs, and sound systems Thankfully, the ENERGY STAR program has certifying new products that reduce phantom loads, because current estimates indicate that residential consumers in the U.S. spend over 4 billion dollars on standby power every year. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.

So I'm takin' back the night and unplugging my appliances and flipping the switch on my power strips while I'm asleep. We have our PC stations hooked up to power strips at the office, to conserve energy at night and on weekends and now it's just part of my routine to turn mine off at the end of the day.

Home energy conservation is the easiest way for me to pocket some cash and reduce my environmental impact. Though I'm looking for other ways to shrink my carbon footprint, like driving less and composting, but I'm not there yet. In the meantime, I use that money I saved to invest in carbon offsets--but that's for another entry.

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