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Some appliances responsible for 'phantom power draw'

Arthur Graphic-Clarion of Arthur, Illinois

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If someone stole your wallet on the street, you would yell, "Thief!" If your home was broken into, you would call the cops. If you got taken in a Ponzi scheme, you would be dialing a lawyer in short order.

If you think you would react similarly in those situations, you might be shocked to learn that you are the victim of theft right now, and you are an accessory to the crime! To add insult to injury, the thieves are probably the items that entertain you the most. They are things like your TVs, DVRs, and stereos. They are stealing from you through "phantom power draw."

Energy Education Council executive director Molly Hall explains, "Phantom power draw is sometimes called vampire power, standby power, or leaking electricity. Many electronics don't actually shut off when the off button is pushed, Instead, they go into "standby mode," which uses electricity for features like clicks and remote controls."

According to Energy Star, roughly 8 percent of the electricity usage in the average home is used to power electronics when the devices are off. The amount of power used by some common household electronics might surprise you.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found the following electronics can use up to the listed wattage when turned off: DVD player 33, satellite set-top box 25, rear projection TV 16, portable stereo 19, garage door opener 34, microwave oven 18, coffee maker 12, laptop computer (power supply only) 19, and multifunction inkjet printer 23.

What can you do to keep the phantom power draw from wasting money in your home? Unplug products that are rarely used, like a TV or DVD player in a guest room. Use a power strip with a switch to control clusters of products. Buy low-standby products.

Most Energy Star endorsed products have lower phantom power draws.

Hall adds, "Be aware of what you unplug. Keep in mind that most re-chargeable products will lose their charge over time, and you might find yourself trying to use a re-chargeable drill with a dead battery."

When shopping for new electronics, here are some telltale signs that the device might boost your power bill with phantom power draw: It has a remote control. It has an external power supply. It has a digital display, LED status light, or digital clock. It contains a battery charger. It has a soft-touch key-pad.

To find out how much phantom power draw your electronics are using, plug a watt meter into an outlet and the appliance into the watt meter. Turn the device on and note the watts used. Then turn the device off to see how much phantom power it uses.

Visit your local library to see if they have a watt meter you can borrow, and go to for more information on phantom power draw.

Copyright 2011 Arthur Graphic-Clarion, Arthur, Illinois. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: November 9, 2011

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