Does it seem like your power bill has gone up year after year? While elevated energy costs are certainly part of the problem, there’s a “phantom menace” that’s also been driving up your bill: New electronics.
Long gone are the days when shouting at the kids to “turn off the light!” was a sure way to save on electricity (though installing reduced-energy bulbs is a good move, too). The U.S. Department of Energy reports that “75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while products are turned off.” Why’s that? Because newer electronics and appliances consume power even when the device is turned off. The term to describe this is known as “phantom load.”
Home entertainment systems with remote controls, wireless routers, appliances with clocks, electronics that use a power adaptor (i.e. a wall cube) and computer printers are all good targets for reducing phantom loads. If you can feasibly eliminate these loads, you can save a lot of money over the course of the year.
So how do you eliminate phantom load? Unplugging devices every day is a hassle, but one sound alternative is the use of power strips which allow you to kill the connection to the main outlet without having to unplug devices. If you Google “smart power strips” you’ll also find a variety of options for allowing certain devices to “pass through” while others are shut off. This can be useful when you have certain devices which do need to be “on standby” while others do not.
While going green is a perfectly good reason to reduce your power consumption, the money you save on power can go to other household expenses, family vacations, and perhaps even the down payment on your next (or first!) home.
Keep an eye out for those energy vampires! Usually you can tell who they are by their LED lights glowing in the night.
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