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Phantom Loads


I have been checking how much electricity my home is using when nothing is switched on. There are always things using power even when you think nothing is operating. These are called phantom loads because they are using power without you doing anything!

I was shocked when I found out how much the total phantom loads were costing me in a year. The total power consumption in my four bedroom house measured on my Electrisave power meter with nothing running (or so I thought) was 140 watts. This may not sound like much, but multiply this by 24 for a daily figure and then again by 365 for a yearly consumption and I got 1,226,400 watts per year. This equates to 1,226 kilowatt hours per year. Cost of the electricity at the British Gas primary rate tariff of 14.5p/kWh is a staggering 177.82 per year. I am paying this much without doing fridges, lights, TV, computer etc. Phantom loads account for almost 30% of my annual electricity bill!


I set about discovering what power these phantom loads actually represented. I plugged in my PM-230 energy monitor individually to each electrical appliance in the house. It took an hour or so, but was a voyage of discovery. Here is a list of the appliances that I found were presenting phantom loads 24 hours a day:


Appliance type

Power consumption in watts when not being used

Television 16
Video recorder 11
Satellite receiver 9
DVD recorder 14
TV aerial amplifier 1
Audio system 9
Telephone answering machine 9
Weather station 9
Mobile phone charger 4
Fax machine 4
Burglar alarm 5
Security light 5
Doorbell transformer 4
Computer UPS 7
ADSL router 14
Laser printer 7
Ink jet printer 4
Cooker timer 1
Microwave timer 3
Shaver socket 2
Extractor fan 2
Total phantom load 140


All the appliances above were switched off at their built-in switch where appropriate, but left connected to the mains supply. I was shocked at just how much power some items were consuming even when not being used. Most people know that a television on standby still uses power, but my TV was switched off when I measured 16 watts! Obviously some of these appliances could be switched off at the mains socket or disconnected from the supply when not in use, especially things like the printers and the mobile phone charger.

I have subsequently installed an Intelliplug to my computer and home entertainment equipment, which ensures that devices not in use are disconnected from the mains. This has nearly halved the phantom loads in my house, but virtually everything else needs to be permanently connected to the electricity supply.








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