A phantom load is an electronic device that uses power even though it is turned off. In the average US home, 40% of all electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off, which amounts to 10% of household power consumption. Across the US, this equals the annual output of 18 power plants
. A phantom load is also called an "energy vampire" or a device which uses standby power.
Think about all the electronic things we keep plugged in – phone chargers, iPods, DVD players, TVs, coffee makers and more. Some of these devices draw a little bit of power while turned off, but others like DVD players use more than a third of the energy it takes to watch a movie. And we’ve all felt our warm phone chargers after they have been plugged in for awhile – If it’s warm, it’s sucking energy.
The easiest way to eliminate these phantom loads or standby power is to unplug your electronics when you don’t need them. Sometimes it is unrealistic to unplug and re-plug everything. The best alternative is to plug all of your electronic devices into a power strip/surge protector. Then you can easily switch off the power strip completely when you are not using them, which shuts off all power to any device plugged into it. For example, your TV, DVD player, speakers & stereo can all be plugged into one power strip. When you are done watching TV, flip off the power strip, and all the power is cut off. And the surge protector provides an extra benefit of keeping your devices from getting zapped should the power fluctuate.
Power strips are a handy way of organizing your electronics and is as easy to use as a light switch. You should switch off your electronics just like you turn off your lights when you leave a room.