What is Phantom Energy and How Do You Stop It?

Home Hacks, Home Tips

If your home uses electricity, you probably have a “ghost” problem.

Or a better way to put it — a phantom energy problem.

Phantom energy is when your electronics or appliances drain energy when they’re not being used. Yep, even if your TV, computer, or washing machine are turned off, they’re still draining energy. That’s why we call these things “energy vampires” because they suck power when not in use.

How much electricity do energy vampires drain? A lot. As much as 30% of the average household’s energy bills are because of phantom energy! This is a rise from 10% in 2005, so phantom energy has tripled in less than 20 years!

Why? Blame the rise of electronics. Back in the day (like 25 years ago) when you turned a product off, it was truly off. But thanks to electronics being in pretty much everything, phantom energy is on the rise. After all, maintaining your user preferences for your dryer, dishwasher, or microwave takes power, and that power comes from phantom energy.

Now that we know about phantom energy, what can you do about it?

You don’t have to buy garlic to ward off energy vampires – just some simple tips and tricks you can do around the house.

  • Unplug electronic devices when not in use. Don’t just turn them off — unplug them from the wall. We understand this is impractical for many devices, especially entertainment systems or appliances. But for certain items — such as coffee makers, printers, old electronics not in use (looking at you Blu-ray player), and especially your phone charger — unplugging them when you’re not using them will make a big difference.
  • Use an advanced power strip. For TVs, entertainment systems, computers, and lighting fixtures, we recommend switching to an advanced power strip, which literally stops phantom energy. When you plug items into an advanced power strip, you stop them from draining electricity when you’re not using them. We even offer you up to a $22 instant rebate for purchasing an advanced power strip. Safety note: Do not plug high-capacity appliances (refrigerators, washing machines) into an advanced power strip.
  • Switch to wireless outlet switches. These switches are super cool, especially for individual devices. Basically, you plug these switches into the wall outlet, plug your device into the switch, and then use a remote control to turn your devices on or off without doing it manually. There are also Amazon Alexa-ready smart plugs that respond to your voice command. “Alexa, turn off the living room lamp.” Yep, simple as that!
  • Be energy smart everywhere! All of these ideas will help you cut back on phantom power, but it’s still important to be energy efficient across your house. When purchasing electronics or appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR®-certified logo. Before making any purchase or upgrade to your home, always check our rebates page and programs page for potentially huge savings. And be sure to check out our tips and tricks page for easy ways you can save around your home or business. 

The potential costs of phantom energy can be scary, but fixing it doesn’t have to be. Follow the ideas above and your phantom energy problems will be a thing of the past!