Phantom Load or Vampire Power is the name for the energy used from an electronic device that is turned off, but still plugged in.
Below is a list of items and how much energy (in watts and dollars) they use over a 24-hour period of being turned off, but still plugged in.
- Cell Phone Charger
- 0-9 watts
- Up to $0.02/day or $0.62/month
- Entertainment Center (TV, 2 gaming systems, sound system and 2 lamps)
- 408 watts
- $0.04/day or $1.17/month
- Computer Setup
- 240 watts
- $0.02/day or $0.60/month
Note: These figures do not include usage when they are in use.
Phantom Load – Should I unplug items I am not using to save electricity?
There are a few things to consider before turning off a power strip or unplugging an item due to Vampire Load: quantity and time.
Using the Entertainment Center example above, we can determine the actual amount that would be saved by turning it off at the power strip, when not in use.
- Hours/day used: 8 or 240 hours per month (30 days)
- Usage and cost per hour: 17 watts per hour/$0.002 (2/10 of a cent) per hour
- Hours not in use: 16 or 384 hours per month (30 days)
- 16 x 17watts = 272 watts = 272 kWh per day or 8.16 kWh per month
0.272 kWh x 0.094 (summer residential rate) = $0.03 per day saved.
8.16 kWh x 0.094 (summer residential rate) = $0.90 per month saved.
As mentioned above, quantity plays a role. Depending on how many of those setups you have, the $0.90 per month could add up. Otherwise, generally speaking, it is just as well to simply turn off items that are not in use to conserve energy versus unplugging them.
Ultimately, a high bill is not generally caused by Phantom Load. Phantom Load can cost you $1.00 to $10.00 extra per month, but that all depends on how many setups you may have, how long they are in use for versus not in use and whether they’re being turned off or not.
What about that cell phone charger and TV setup? See below!
- Cell phone charger (8hr/day use)
- 16hrs unused: 6 watts per day or 180 watts per month (0.006 kWh or 0.180 kWh respectively)
- 006 kWh x 0.094 (summer residential rate) = $0.0006 (6/100th of a cent) per day saved.
- 180 kWh x 0.094 (summer residential rate) = $0.02 cents per month saved.
- Computer Setup (8hr/day use)
- 16hrs unused: 160 watts per day or 4.8 kW per month (0.160 kWh or 4.8 kWh respectively)
- 160 x 0.094 (summer residential rate) = $0.02 per day saved
- 8 kWh x 0.094 (summer residential rate) = $0.45 per month saved