Reduce Phantom Electrical Loads

Posted on Dec 21, 2007 - 07:10 AM
By: Adam Beazley

Phantom electrical loads are those hidden, unseen or forgotten electrical loads that drive up energy cost and increase emissions. These phantom loads account for almost 11% of all residential electricity consumption. In order to create a more energy efficient home, phantom electrical loads must be reduced or eliminated. Phantom loads come in a variety of forms, from electronics which are left on, to that old refrigerator that uses twice as much electricity as newer models, there are tons of phantom electrical loads taking loads of money from your pockets and releasing loads of carbon emissions into our atmosphere.

Eliminate Phantom Electrical Loads:

Set Computer to Hibernate

Hibernation is a function that Microsoft Windows offers, in which windows will take a picture of your current desktop and all of your currently running programs and save it to your hard drive, at which point, windows will then shut down. Now, by saving the image on your computers hard drive, the computer is able to access the image when it is turned back on.

What's great about hibernation is that you can pre-set it to hibernate when it senses non-activity for a set period of time. Also, when you come back to the computer and power it up again, the startup sequence is twice as fast as it normally is and all of your information is back up exactly like you left it. This means no more having to save and close all of your open windows before shutting down your computer. Hibernation can be invoked either manually or automatically after a certain period of time. Hibernation Setup:

The setup is really simple, simply go to START--->SETTINGS--->CONTROL PANEL and in the "control panel" window find the "POWER OPTIONS" and double click it. Once you are inside the "Power Options Properties" you are going to make a few setting changes.

First click on the "HIBERNATE" tab and click on the empty box next to "Enable Hibernation" so that a check mark appears in the box and then click the apply at the bottom right. Now click on the "POWER SCHEMES" tab and select the "Power Scheme" which best describes your computer and situation by using the drop-down menu.

Now adjust the settings directly below to turn your monitor off after x many minutes (I recommend 10-15 or less). Now set the "turn off hard disks" to never and set the "System Hibernates" to a time limit that suits your needs (I recommend 1 hour). Now Click apply and you are done.

This simple setting change can eliminate up to 300 lbs. of CO2 per year, reducing your household rate by up to 2% saving about $15.

Unplug Electronics

Many electronics continue to use electricity even when the power is off. VCR's, DVD players and radios are notorious for this, as they tend to have LED lights and clocks that stay on even when the device is turned off.

To stop these types of phantom electrical loads, you can plug all these devices and appliances into multi-plug electrical surge protectors. This way you can cut off the power to these devises with a simple flick of a switch. Or if you don't want to cut off switches all of the time, you can purchase a smart power strip which will do all of the legwork for you. By cutting off the power source to these electronics, you assure that these devices are not drawing any load whatsoever.

Replace Old Appliances

Old outdated appliances can eat up electricity like nothing else. This is because back when they were build, energy efficiency was not a high priority, in fact it probably wasn't even a priority at all.

For instance, an old refrigerator consumes over 4 times more electricity than today's energy efficient models. This translates into massive savings considering that refrigerators consume more electricity than any other appliance in a typical home. It is for this very reason that you should consider replacing your old, outdated appliances with new efficient "Energy Star" products.

Energy Star is a rating system where the government gives a special label to efficient energy saving appliances. To use this rating system When shopping for a new appliance, just look for the Energy Star label, which identifies the most efficient appliances. You can also use the Energy Guide labels to compare the efficiency of specific models.

Replace Old Incandescent Light Bulbs

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, if every American household replaced just one incandescent light bulb with a compact florescent bulb, we would reduce our CO2 emissions by 90 billion pounds. This is the equivalent of taking over 6 million SUV's off of the road for good.

Compact florescent light bulbs have come a long way and are now available in many different shapes, sizes, intensities and colors(warm and cool). With all of these new options available, there is no excuse for not choosing CFL's as a viable replacement for typical incandescent lights.

Not only can CFL's be interchanged with incandescents with no noticeable change in lighting condition, but they are a huge cost savings. Even though they are more expensive up-front, over the life span of the bulb they are 70% more efficient and cost effective than incandescent lights.

Comparison chart between CFL's and incandescent over the CFL's life span of 10,000 hours:

Life in Hours (hrs) 10,000 hrs. 1,500 hrs.
Number of Bulbs 1 6.7
Cost in US dollars ($) $4.00 6.7 x 32¢ = $2.14
Input in Watts (W) 13 W 60 W
Electricity Used in Kilowatt hours (kwh) 130 kwh 600 kwh
Electricity Cost at 8¢ per kwh $10.40 $48.00
Total Cost $14.40 $50.14

Total Savings: $50.14 - $14.40 = $35.74

That is a $35.74 savings by replacing just one incandescent light bulb with one compact florescent light bulb. Now multiply that number by the number by the number of incandescent light bulbs you counted earlier. Pretty significant wouldn't you say?

Turn Down the Thermostat

The average person will not notice a 2 degree difference in temperature, and its these 2 degrees that can save about 15% on monthly heating and cooling cost. Adjusting the thermostat two degrees cooler in the winter can save about 5% in energy cost. Also, setting the thermostat two degrees warmer in the summer can save about 10% or more in energy cost. By simply making this small adjustment, it will reduce carbon emissions by about 3,000 pounds each year.

Use Programmable Thermostats

The above option may cause the temperature to be a little too high or a little too low and therefore cause you to sacrifice comfort. If this is the case, an alternative option is to install and use a programmable thermostat.

What's great about programmable thermostats is that you can program them to change the temperature while you are at work, sleeping or running regular errands. By setting your thermostat to raise the temperature four degrees in the winter and lower the temperature four degrees in the summer while you are working or sleeping, you can achieve an annual savings of over 11% on your energy cost. This reduces your carbon emissions by about 2,000 pounds per year without sacrificing comfort or breaking your pocket book. These programmable thermostats are less than 60 bucks right now in our store, pick one up today!

Permalink Hugg it! C2NN: Submit it! Bookmark Digg it! Technorati Bookmark My.Yahoo Bookmark Newsvine Backflip it! Furl it! blinkbits it! Unalog it! Blinklist it! socializeus Reddit it!

Show/Hide Comments (7)

By Kammy on 07/25/2008


This is very very informative…a great read and will be especially helpful at a time when fuel costs are SO high - really I had no idea so much money is being wasted by us all.

Thanks again

By Poker gratuit on 07/31/2010

Love your blog, i’m glad you’re enjoying it. I thought I would leave my first comment smile

By Viking service on 08/19/2010

The highest phantom load discovered were the compressor heaters on some air conditioners and heat pumps. Because these are rare and the statistical sample was 2 we did not include them within the chart above.Other heavy phantom loads discovered were within standby generators with sump heaters and battery blankets and built in battery chargers.

By Nissan Xterra Supercharger on 08/27/2010

Adjusting the thermostat two degrees cooler in the winter can save about 5% in energy cost. Also, setting the thermostat two degrees warmer in the summer can save about 10% or more in energy cost. By simply making this small adjustment, it will reduce carbon emissions by about 3,000 pounds each year…

By creation de site on 12/30/2010

Can’t believe I stumbled upon this post today, and just realized it was posted 3 years ago. The points you made have only become more pressing, but since then I’m afraid the level of phantom residential electricity consumption reached above the 11%...

By Online Payroll on 02/28/2011

Thank you for the article, I only wish I would have found this information three years ago. I have recently started unplugging toaster, irons, sewing machine. However, I forgot about the appliances that have LED lights and display times. Duh… Thanks again.

By Filter Outlet on 03/02/2011

One more thing to add to this article… making sure you have clean air filters on your heating and cooling system also can make a huge difference in its efficiency, and, thus, by extension, the cost to heat and cool your home.

Leave A Comment

Leave A Comment!






Please enter the word you see in the image below:

3 + 4 =

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

  • Subscribe to our weekly CO2 reduction tips; Learn , Help and Save!
  • Name:
  • Email:
Meet More Members!