Leaking electricity is known by many other names:
- Standby power (most common)
- Vampire power
- Phantom load
Whatever it’s called, most homeowners are unfamiliar with its very existence – and how much it ends up affecting the electricity bill.
Standby power refers to the amount of electricity used by appliances and equipment while they are switched off and not performing their primary function. It’s power that is consumed by power supplies (the black cubes, sometimes called vampires, convert AC into DC). It is also caused by circuits that continue pull energy even when a device is off.
The typical home has several devices that are constantly drawing power, and they amount to almost 10% of residential electricity use. Some of the largest electricity consumers are cable boxes, phone chargers and video game consoles.
Compare the average amount of standby power used by many products using this chart.
The cost of leaking electricity
According to the National Resource Defense Council, Americans are spending $19 billion a year in electricity pulled from appliances and electronics on standby.
One reason for such so much power consumption is that many previously mechanical devices have gone digital. Appliances like washers, dryers, and refrigerators now have digital displays, electronic controls and Internet connectivity.
Ways to reduce the amount of lost standby power
- Unplug electronics that you rarely use.
- Use a power strip and turn it off to eliminate the continual plugging and unplugging of electronics.
- Buy low standby products – these can be hard to find but ENERGY STAR products tend to have low standby.
- Reduce demand (maybe downsize the number of TVs in the house).
- Remove chargers from the wall when you’re not using them.