Don't be haunted by phantom loads

 Don't be haunted by phantom loads

Phantom LoadThere’s something lurking in the walls of your home. It’s draining your pocketbook and the energy out of your electronics and appliances.

A phantom, ghost or vampire load is the energy used by items like your DVD player and microwave, even when they are turned off or in standby mode.

It’s the things we don’t think about – from your coffee maker timer to the clock on your stereo.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 20 percent of our electric use goes to phantom loads.

Some of the items putting a bite in your energy use include:

  • televisions
  • microwaves
  • DVD players
  • washers and dryers
  • computers
  • coffee machines
  • cell phone and battery chargers.

There are easy steps you can take to ward off vampire loads.

  • Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use.
  • Simplify by using a power strip to power down multiple appliances with one switch.
  • If you don’t want to shut down your computer, turn off the monitor and printer. Screensavers do not reduce the amount of energy used.
  • If you need new appliances, consider the ones that are Energy Star® rated. They use 10 to 50 percent less energy than traditional appliances. They may also qualify for one of our money-saving rebates.

Standby power summary

​Device Average Kilowatt
hours annually
Potential cost
per year
Cell phone chargers​ 18 to 58​
$1.77 to $5.73​
TVs, VCRs,
ceiling fans​
29 to 146​
$2.84 to $14.32
Computer printers
and monitors​
29 to 292​
$2.84 to $28.65
Clothes washers,
microwave ovens​
58 to 146​
$5.69 to $14.32
Digital video recorders​
58 to 175​ $5.69 to $17.19​
Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (