Pull That Plug! 10 Common Culprits of Phantom Energy Leaks


Phantom energy sucks. Even when turned off, plugged-in electric devices are draining the juice in your house, a phenomenon that can add up to more than 65 billion kilowatt-hours of power each year. Save energy, and you save major cash.

The Union of Concerned Scientists calls the culprits of this waste vampires which silently suck away more than $5.8 billion annually of extra energy, which sends more than 87 billion pounds of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. Although few of us are in the dark about this waste, we do little or nothing to limit the stand-by mode of our glowing devices, mostly because we are too tired, or too busy, too lazy. Also, some cable boxes lose all their data when unplugged and microwave ovens are installed in 50s fashion – inserted in a wall shelf with no access to the cord.

Unplugging when possible is the easiest weapon to combat these vampires and the little things make a big difference. A huge time saver also is to plug your electronics into a power strip or surge suppressor that can be shut off with a single switch.

First, you should identify the nocturnal monsters. They’re not as hot as the Cullins family but are powerful nonetheless. Here are the top 10:


1. Adapters with rechargeable battery-powered cordless phones

We have these in several rooms and I’m sure you do, too. You don’t want the phones to go dead, but you also need to curb that extra $100 to $200 you are spending each year on those phantoms.


2. Cell phones and chargers

How many times do you leave the charger plugged into the outlet and hanging on the counter or your desk? Just start to notice this and pull the plug.


3. Televisions

If you’re able to get behind your TV unplug it after viewing. If not, connect it to a power strip. You’ll deserve an Emmy for effort.


4. Power Tools

Cordless drills and circular saws? Home Renovations suggests you go this route, and if you don’t, we suggest you keep your tools unplugged.


5. Microwaves

You should see the dinosaur in the teacher’s lounge at my kids’ school! Scary, and it never gets unplugged, unless I go in there and do the job. It’s so easy to unplug when these appliances are freestanding and not inserted into cabinets. Experts say the clocks use more power than the ovens themselves.


6. DVD players

These should be on the same power strip as the TV to avoid draining the grid.


7. Digital Clocks

It can be alarming to think these essential time tellers suck energy when standing by all day while you are away. CBS News tells us a good guide is to unplug anything with a digital clock. If you don’t mind the flashing clocks, put them on a surge protector and shut them off, and only turn them on when you’re using the appliance. The memory chips are on, even when we’re not using the appliance.


8. Computers

Is that lap top hooked up when you go to sleep? Is the docking station still active when you are getting your Zzz’s? Try powering down at night to have sweeter dreams.


9. Computer Monitors

We forget to unplug these, as well, wanting them fired up and ready to go when we are ready to work.


10. Digital camera chargers

Just like our cell phones, we get in the habit of recharging and forgetting. Learning new habits is challenging the results make for a much brighter energy picture.

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Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.