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Eco Facts

What Is Phantom Energy?

March 4, 2021


Written by: Natalie Henderson, Marketing associate @blueland

Phantom energy or vampire power might sound menacing and that’s because it is. We’ll break down what you need to know about phantom energy and tips to stop phantom energy from driving up your energy bill. We’ll take you through:

  • What Is Phantom Energy?
  • What Devices Are Using Phantom Energy?
  • How Can I Reduce Phantom Energy?

What Is Phantom Energy?

Phantom energy is the energy used by idle or “always-on” devices. These are things in your home or office that remain plugged in, even when you aren’t using them. Why is this such a big deal? In 2005, the NRDC did a study that suggested that 10% of energy used every month in any given household was coming from phantom sources. This number has likely only increased as the number of devices in our homes have increased. Most of our electronics today need to be plugged in for power, but have you ever realized just how many devices you have plugged in?

What Devices Are Using Phantom Energy?

There are many devices that are using power even if they’re not plugged in or are off. As you go through different rooms in your home, here are some you might start to notice.

Phantom Energy From Kitchen Appliances

  • Coffee Maker: Do you start your day with a cup of coffee? If so you may leave your coffee machine plugged in for convenience. But that convenience might be costing you energy and money! Even if you aren’t brewing coffee, leaving coffee machines plugged in can still suck up some energy.
  • Toaster: A toaster is a kitchen staple in many homes, but it’s also used for a very short amount of time. If you’re leaving your toaster plugged in when it’s not used, it’s still using energy!
  • Microwave: We typically leave microwaves plugged in for convenience but while we leave our microwave on and it’s clock ticking, we are using up a lot of energy.

Phantom Energy From Bathroom Devices:

  • Electric Toothbrush: Do you leave your electric toothbrush plugged in between charges? It can use energy it doesn’t really need if it’s always sitting in the charging dock!
  • Light Up Vanity Mirror: Do you need a little extra light for your beauty routine? If so, you might be losing extra energy. Leaving vanity mirrors plugged in even if the lights aren’t on can use up energy.
  • Electric Facial Brushes: Similar to the electric toothbrush, if you use a vibrating or electric facial brush you might be losing some energy in between washes.

Phantom Energy In Your Bedroom Or Living Room:

Bedrooms and living rooms are where you’ll find a handful of vampire power sucking appliances.

  • Phone and Laptop Chargers: Do you leave your phone charger plugged in next to your bed? Or keep your laptop charger plugged in in the same place? You might be losing a lot of energy to these chargers!
  • TVs: Typically, we leave TVs plugged all day everyday. While this makes it easy to switch on when we feel like watching, it also takes up a bunch of energy while it isn’t on.
  • Audio Systems: Speakers, smart devices like Alexa’s are typically left plugged in. Even if you aren’t playing music you are using power.

How Can I Reduce Phantom Energy?

The good news is that you can banish some of your energy phantoms with a few easy steps that can help you keep your energy consumption and your energy bill low.

  • Do an energy audit: Walk through your home and see what devices you leave plugged in and get a sense for how much energy you might be wasting.
  • Unplug: The best way to conserve energy is to unplug devices when you’re not using them. This might be easier for some devices like phone and laptop chargers than others like microwaves, but even unplugging a few can help!
  • Get a power strip (or a few): Power strips make it easier to turn off a set of electronics. Rather than unplugging each individual device you can just switch the whole power strip off when you’re not using it.
  • Clump Devices Together: If you choose to go the power strip route, clump your devices together based on usage. If you use certain devices infrequently, put them together in one power strip so you can always keep those devices off when you’re not using them.

These tips can help you save big on energy and money!


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