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5 Common Phantom Loads that Secretly Raise Your Electric Bills

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How many of us use devices and appliances without unplugging it afterwards? If you are one of those people, then it’s high time that you learn all about phantom loads.

A phantom load is a term that is commonly used to describe a discreet, often unseen “ghostly” consumer of energy. These are the gadgets and appliances that continue to draw a minimal amount of load even when they are already supposed to be turned off. Phantom loads are directly responsible for secretly raising your electric bills.

There are a wide variety of items that can draw a phantom load. However, we have only selected the ones that could have the highest probability of being neglected in most households.

Microwave Ovens

Heating food is very fast and easy in a microwave oven; you’d often finish heating up something already during the time an electric stove just starts to heat up. Very convenient, but the internal timers inside it often draws unwanted power even after use. It is made worse by the fact that we often forget or simply ignore the idea of unplugging it properly just because we consider it “very tedious” and “time consuming”.

Every Kind of Charger You Can Think Of

Speaking of tedious, it can also be a total drag when there is always a need to pull an AC adapter out just to charge something. Wouldn’t it be an attractive idea to just keep the sturdier chargers always plugged 24/7? But if you want to stay away from phantom loads though, you might want to stop this bad habit early. Any device that has to do with altering or changing electric energy properties (increasing voltage, changing current, etc.) would always draw a small amount of power to keep it running, hence becoming a source for a phantom load.

Desktop Computer Systems

There are many background operations inside a computer that requires it to draw a certain amount of energy to keep it working. Setting it on sleep or hibernate mode for example, requires the computer to preserve volatile memory, thus requiring a small amount of current. In addition, a PC monitor that is set automatically to standby when the computer is not active would even add to the amount of power that is already secretly consumed.

Air Conditioning Systems

Many air conditioning systems today have integrated functions and controls that would usually require it to be at some form of a standby state. Aside from this standby power requirement, some air conditioning units have heat compressors, which add up to the amount of phantom load being sucked up. If we add the fact that air conditioning units are some of the highest energy consumers then it would be a wise choice to unplug it if it’s not in use.

Television Sets

The most notorious household appliance that uses standby power is none other than the television. That remote power-on function might save you a few steps and calories away from the power button of your energy efficient LED-lighted LCD screen, but you would certainly have to pay back everything in watts. No need for surveys or statistics here, as it is very easy to see why completely unplugging televisions might be a harder challenge than unplugging microwaves (hint: entertainment).

Diligence is perhaps the most important virtue to follow when you want to be adamant in searching for possible phantom load sources. If you can’t imagine yourself doing the exact same plug-unplug routine every day, then just try imagining the amount of money that you could save. Maybe that could be a better source of willpower for you.

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by EJP Photo via Flickr

Christian Crisostomo
About Christian Crisostomo (266 Posts)

Christian Crisostomo is just your average tech geek that loves to see man's newest and most recent technological exploits. He holds great interest in the potentials of green technology, and is enthusiastic about the continuous development of environment-friendly alternative energy.


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4 Comments on “5 Common Phantom Loads that Secretly Raise Your Electric Bills

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