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The Phantom Load: Are you Guilty?

imagesConfession – time…

I touch other people’s stuff.

Ok, clarification: I unplug my friends’ and family’s electric appliances… I unplug my roommate’s electric toothbrush, our community kitchen appliances; and if I walk into my boyfriend’s apartment and see an electric razor or i-pod charger that’s not in current use they’re getting yanked too. (Sometimes accompanied by a short lecture on why that’s wrong .)

Phantom load is the term used when appliances utilize energy when they’re not being used. So, despite switching the off or standby button – they’re draining needless energy. Everything from coffee pots to cell-phone chargers are energy vampires.

The typical home has about 20 devices that drain extra energy daily. The impact from one household is fairly minimal, but collectively the cost across the nation is HUGE. According to the EPA, the phantom load costs 10 billion in energy costs annually.

What can you do?
• One idea is to use a surge protector. A power strip will make it more convienent to turn all your electronics off at once.
• Scour your house and check out every electric outlet. Do you really need that toaster oven  plugged in? Or the alarm clock you only use on weekdays?
• Another way to identify some of your energy vampires is by turning off the lights at night and check out the ‘glows.’ Any appliances that light up are using energy. You’ll likely find at least a few things you don’t really need on when not in use.
• Use devices that have the energy star label. They’re approved by EPA and will use less energy (even when they’re off.)
Do the math: Money talks – especially when it’s yours and you’re wasting it. Consider getting an energy audit or check out energy star’s online yardstick. You’ll get an idea of how much you’re spending and will be inspired to cut costs in areas easily controlled.

What are the biggest culprits to watch out for? The television set (especially big flat-screens) rank #1 on the list of energy suckers, followed by home computers and printers. It’s difficult to unlplug the TV and computer everytime, but small “unplugs” can add up.

Posted by Beth

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Beth is a Health and Wellness expert who believes sustainability goes hand-in-hand with self care. She’s the girl whipping up kombucha cocktails at parties, and extolling the benefits of canning vegetables to anyone who will listen. View all posts by Beth Funari
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