How to stop energy vampires and phantom power loads

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Did you know your cell phone charger could be costing you money even when you're not using it? Patty Kim, from National Geographic's The Green Guide, shows you how to save money and save energy by pulling the plug on phantom loads and energy vampires.

How to stop energy vampires and phantom power loads

How to put a stake through the heart of these energy thieves?

  1. Pull out individual plugs where possible.
  2. In areas near computers and home entertainment equipment with lots of components, plug everything into one power strip -- just make sure you get one with surge protection -- and, when you're done for the night or weekend, flip off the illuminated switch.

Slaying the voltage vampires in your home is a good way to save a few dollars on your electric bill, and it also helps cut down on everyday emissions of carbon dioxide -- a bi-product of burning fossil fuels for energy -- that contributes to global warming. It's just a little bit of extra work, but every little bit helps and Mother Earth will thank you.

Transcript

Have you heard of voltage vampires? These nefarious creatures siphon off electricity and drain money from your pocket day and night, yet you may never even know it's happening! Virtually any appliance in your house can use electricity when it's not in use. Even when it's turned off. Not only do they drain your money, but they the energy they drain causes needless production of greenhouse gasses. Day after day after day.

Leaking electricity is estimated to be responsible for up to 45 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity consumed by U.S. households each year. That costs us more than $3.5 billion! Most appliances -- your toaster, microwave, coffeemaker, clock radio, TV and computer -- have stand-by functions, digital clocks, little lightbulbs, sensors, or other features that keep working as long as the appliance is plugged in. Regardless of whether it's switched on. Even the chargers for your cellphones, iPods and other portable electronics are using power when they’re plugged in -- regardless of whether they are charging or idle.

You might think the amount of electricity that gets used in these situations is too small to worry about. But it does add up. Your television draws 10 to 20% of its total power usage – when it’s turned off. How to put a wooden stake through the heart of these voltage vampires?

Easy: 1. Pull out individual plugs where possible -- except when you are actually using an appliance. 2. In areas near computers and home entertainment equipment with lots of components, plug everything into one power strip -- just make sure you get one with surge protection -- and, when you're done for the night or weekend, flip off the illuminated switch.

Slaying the voltage vampires in your home is a good way to save a few dollars on your electric bill, and it also helps cut down on everyday emissions of carbon dioxide -- a by-product of burning fossil fuels for energy -- that contributes to global warming. It's just a little bit of extra work, but every little bit helps and Mother Earth will thank you.

meet theexpert
  • Patty Kim

    Patty Kim Correspondent, National Geographic's The Green Guide Patty Kim is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist. She is served as a host and anchor for National Geographic as well as reporting for the PBS television program “Nova Science Now.” more about this expert »

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