Phantom load, also known as standby power or vampire power, is the electricity consumed by an electronic device while it is turned off or in standby mode, yet is still plugged in. This type of “phantom” or standby power draw from plug loads accounts for 3 to 10 percent of all electric power consumption in the U.S. It is the power that maintains your TV settings and keeps the clock going on your microwave and other electronic devices – but this power can come at a price. A joint study between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several other environmental agencies around the globe put that price at a full 10% of your monthly energy bill!
Many electronic products continue to draw power from the wall even when they are powered off. Advanced power strips, also referred to as smart strips, allow consumers to mitigate this increased electrical load by automatically interrupting power to controlled devices. Since it’s not always practical to unplug these items whenever they are not in use, “smart” power strips can effectively do so for you.
There are three types of “smart” power strips:
- Timer-equipped – These power strips have outlets that are controlled by programmable timers. Devices plugged into them can be scheduled to automatically turn off or on at designated times of day or night.
- Occupancy sensing – Occupancy sensing power strips have outlets that are controlled by a motion detector. Devices plugged into them can automatically turn off or on in response to your physical presence or after a user-defined period of time elapses (i.e., anywhere from 30 seconds to 60 minutes).
- Current sensing – These power strips can automatically turn several outlets off or on when they detect that a monitor (plugged into the “master outlet”) either enters a low-powered sleep mode, is turned off, or is turned on. When used in combination with monitor power management features, these power strips can turn just about any electric device off and on automatically.
Consider using “smart” power strips to reduce the power consumed by task lighting (lighting used for a specific activity), computer accessories, fans, space heaters, and other miscellaneous plug loads used throughout your home and workspaces. Over time, you’ll notice little changes make a lot of difference; save energy, save money!