MN Energy Smart

How Much Phantom Energy Do Your Electronics Use?

In our last post, we featured the electrical  watts used by various office and home electronics when they’re in use. What’s less apparent is how much electricity is consumed by all these gadgets when they’re turned off.

So-called phantom energy (or “vampire power”) is the electricity drawn from outlets when equipment is off but still plugged in. Many types of electronics and office equipment, including computers, stereos and printers, continue to draw electricity when they’re plugged in and off. And it’s not a negligible amount: Phantom energy can account for 15% or more of the total electricity used by these gadgets.

The best way to avoid this wasted energy is by unplugging these electronics when they’re not in use. Many people don’t, however, because of the hassle and time involved with rummaging under the desk or behind shelves for the plug. We recommend using power strips and hooking multiple items into them, so one can just flick one switch and turn everything off at once. Even better, put the power strips in easy-to-reach locations, such as on top of your desk.

Keep in mind, some electronics stay plugged in all the time and may only get used a couple hours a week or less. So even if the phantom energy draw is small, it can add up to a significant part of your home or business’s electricity usage.

To see the phantom energy draw of equipment that you may have in your workplace, here’s a list of the average watts per hour used by various office electronics when they’re turned off (thanks, again, to the Energy Center of Wisconsin study):

Treadmill – 5.6 watts

Fax machine – 5.2 watts

Printer – 4.3 watts

Compact stereo – 4.3 watts

Tool charger – 4.2 watts

Battery charger – 2.6 watts

TV, CRT (26 – 31 inches) – 1.3 watts

Desktop computer – 2.4 watts

Modem – 1.5 watts

Scanner – 1.5 watts

Monitor – 1.2 watts

Laptop computers – 0.7 watts

DVD player – 0.4 watts

Do you take steps to reduce phantom energy?


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