Is Phantom Electricity Draining your Bank Account?

Posted by Mrs Money on February 16th, 2010

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Creative Commons License photo credit: masterplaan

Phantom electricity can suck the energy out of your home like an energy vampire. What is phantom electricity? It’s the energy that’s used when appliances are plugged in and not being used. Do you leave your cell phone charger plugged in and not charging the phone? Chances are you’re a victim of phantom electricity.

Here are some ways to combat the energy vampire:

-Unplug your cell phone charger, toaster, and blender when not in use.  Small appliances can still cause a big drain.

-If you live with someone that leaves things plugged in when they’re not using them (*cough* Mr. Money), make sure you do a sweep of your house before you turn in at night.

-Completely shut down your computer at night and unplug it.  Not only does this help keep your electric bill low, but you also lower your threat to hackers and viruses.

-Install power strips in areas such as the living room, and connect your tv, receiver, Wii, gaming systems, and other devices to it.  When you go to bed, you can flip the switch to turn everything off and even unplug if you wish.

-Install Energy Star appliances when your old appliances bite the dust. Don’t go out and just buy new ones to replace your current ones- that’s not green or frugal!

Lowering your electric bill and carbon footprint feels great.  Don’t let phantom electricity take a bite out of your budget.  Combat it before it begins!

What steps do you take to lower your electric bill and fight phantom electricity?

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13 Responses to “Is Phantom Electricity Draining your Bank Account?”


  1. Mike Collins says:

    Hi Mrs Money! Great post…I wrote one about phantom energy awhile back too and I think it’s important to spread the word.

    Individually each of these appliances and chargers use only a little energy. But when you go around your house and add them all up you could be wasting a lot of energy.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Mike- Thanks so much for sharing your post! I’ll have to check it out. I think it’s worth it. It is to me, anyway! :)

    [Reply]

  2. Mrs. Frugal says:

    Great tips! We do all of these except shut down our computers. We have trading applications that have to be open to operate so shutting down the computers is not an option. We just got a notice from our electric provider that we’ll soon be able to go online and monitor our usage hour-by-hour. I think that’ll help me identify energy hogs that I need to address.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Mrs. Frugal- Thanks! That’s a great feature your energy company will be doing! I wish ours did that.

    [Reply]

  3. Evan says:

    We bought and use a smart power strip that kills phantom power if the main item is shut off. For example when we shut our TV down it kills phantom power to our Wii, Surround Sound, PS3 and regular blu ray.

    Its great except when you accidently shut down the tv and everything goes off lol

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Evan- That sounds amazing! I’ll have to look into getting one. What a pain that would be if you accidentally turned things off. I’m sure I’d end up doing that. ;)

    [Reply]

  4. Shutting off power strips has become almost as much of a habit for me as turning off lights. :)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Lisa- That’s great! I need to train my husband to do the same thing. He’s bad about leaving things plugged in!

    [Reply]

  5. Shery says:

    I’ve heard many pros and cons to this over the last years. I’m interested in knowing just how much changed when you started unplugging (in percentages, since I know I’ve no business looknig at your actual numbers), and also whether you believe this has generally helped you use less electricity even when you’re awake and using appliances.

    I hope my question made sense.

    Thanks in advance!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Shery- I have been doing it for quite awhile so I’m not too sure. I’ve seen that it’s at least 5% of your total electricity usage and maybe even more! There was something about phantom electricity on Oprah once. I wish I could remember when I started unplugging things. I’d tell you how much my bills were- no prob! :)

    [Reply]

  6. Robert says:

    How much does this really cost, though? A few pennies per month? If it’s significant I’ll unplug my unused items, but otherwise it may not be worth the time and effort.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Robert- http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/vampire.html
    Here’s a site that says it can be around 5% of your total bill. I’d give it a billing cycle to try, and then see if it’s worth it. And you have to let me know. :)

    [Reply]


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