Imagine walking in utter darkness with all lights switched off, chances are your path will still be lit by the "eerie glow" of standby lights or digital display systems most often found in any household electronic device. This is because these devices are designed to operate or receive signals at all times, thus they act as vampires sucking and stealing power even when they are turned "off". It is also attributed to our forgetful , rather ignorant behaviour, when we fail to unplug these devices. A study claims "This wasted energy, known as standby or phantom energy loss, represents a relatively small but growing percentage of an individual home’s electricity use (about five percent), but taken across all U.S. households, adds up to an estimated 65 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. This extra electricity costs consumers more than $5.8 billion annually and sends more than 87 billion pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. "
With the growing demand for energy and dwindling conventional resources, this loss is becoming significant enough to be accounted for, firstly because producing electricity is moderately efficient (almost 35 % - 40 %), on top of that there are transmission and distribution losses, secondly we are losing energy to devices when they are not even active . Many of us are not aware of this kind of energy loss. Recently, a study conducted by Artin dynamics claimed that this power loss is a staggering 26 % of the total power loss in the world.
In most homes, appliances like battery powered cordless phones, cell phones, digital cameras, music players, power tools are some of the biggest energy wasters. Most of these devices draw power regardless of whether the device battery is fully charged or even connected. Standby mode in most equipment renders them this capability of drawing power even when they are switched "off" this list of devices includes televisions, computer monitors, remote control, digital clock display, microwave oven, DVD players, stereo systems.
Some startling facts
- Energy phantoms consume almost 5 % of your household energy use, costing U.S. consumers about $ 6 billion yearly.
- A plasma TV, costs owners $159.76 a year (as shown in the graphic above)
- Computers, even in sleep mode, can cost about $12 a year.
- Leaving a rechargeable power tool in its dock could cost $2 to $5 a year, even when the device is not actively charging.
- All those electric toothbrush and cell phone chargers each cost between $1.50 and $2 each a year.
- Americans pay more for power turned "off" DVD players than to DVD players in use.
- A plugged in (non-energy saver) battery charger draws more 5-20 times more energy than the battery itself stores.
There are certain things you could practice at home to reduce "phantom energy loss", this would not only save money in terms of electricity bill, but also help reduce CO2 emissions.
- Unplug your phone, camera, Ipod, and/or power tool charger : These chargers use energy even when your devices are not plugged in.
- Unplug your television and attached electronics : It is easier if you have them all plugged into power strips, because rather than having to unplug each device, you can just turn off the strip.
- Unplug your computer and attached electronics : Just like with the TV, the computer is also a phantom energy user along with its attached devices. So, turning off a power strip is the easiest way to prevent phantom energy being used while these products are turned off.
- Unplug kitchen appliances with clocks : If you see a clock,then your kitchen device is using power. If possible, keep these appliances unplugged to prevent phantom energy usage.
- Check the label : While buying any electronic appliance or device, choose the model that uses least standby power. Energy star labeled models are most recommended, as they are certified and use least power in both regular and standby modes.