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Phantom Loads and Energy Saving


Most common household appliances are equipped with an on/off switch. Many people don't realize, however, that these appliances may still be consuming electricity even when they are switched off. These so-called "phantom loads" can consume a significant amount of electricity. If you are interested in reducing your energy costs, it is important to know about these phantom loads and energy saving.

Devices that create phantom loads can sometimes be recognized because of clocks or lights that continue to operate after the appliance is turned off. VCRs, stereo systems, microwave ovens and stoves are often equipped with timers that run 24 hours a day.

Any device that can be operated with a remote-control is also consuming power around the clock. It has to stay in a ready state in order to be switched on by the remote control. The ready state consumes less electricity than when the device is "on", but over a 24-hour period the energy consumption can be substantial.

Other phantom loads include DC converters or "wall warts" that are used with many small appliances like modems, cordless phones, and recharging devices.

You may be saying to yourself that the amount of power that these things use is insignificant. In actual fact, phantom loads account for 6% of the total amount of energy used in the United States. This is the equivalent of the power produced by nine nuclear power plants.

How do you reduce phantom power? The easiest way is to plug these devices into switchable six way outlets. When you turn off the TV or the stereo, also turn off the power supply to the outlet.

Using switchable outlets is especially important for DC converters. These devices run at 60 to 80% efficiency which means that even when they are being used, they only provide six cents to eight cents of electricity for every ten cents that you spend.

If this seems like a lot of trouble, consider the fact that you will be saving an average of 6% on your electricity bills. If your average annual bill is $1500, that means you can save $90 a year by eliminating phantom loads.

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