Energy Efficiency: Phantom Energy

Jul 20, 2022

Energy conservation is the effort made to reduce the consumption of energy by reducing usage and it is the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective way to curtail your electricity bill.

Even after taking proactive measures to be more efficient with your energy usage such as installing timers, setting energy efficient temperatures, investing in LED and so on – you may still be using energy unnecessarily through phantom energy, which could be conserved instead to reduce your monthly bill.

With recent studies raising the estimated average of phantom energy consumption to almost a quarter of a homeowner’s total energy use, it is critical that you fully understand this phenomenon and understand how to take control of it. You can realistically reduce your electric bill by enacting smart strategies to control phantom energy consumption!” –

 Phantom energy, also known as vampire power, is the power used by electronic devices when they are not in use. Even though you may only use a device for a limited number of hours during the day, the “off-but-ready” or “standby” power mode of modern electronics keep the devices using electricity for the remaining hours of that day, which can add significantly to the total energy use of your household over the course of a month or a year.

In 2009, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conducted studies on the impacts of phantom energy to the total energy usage of an average American household and found that Phantom Energy accounted for roughly 10% of the average household’s bill. However, in 2015 studies, the NRDC found that around 23%1 of a household’s energy is wasted in phantom energy use, which is a 13% increase in the span of only 6 years.  

This increase in household phantom energy can be attributed to the constantly increasing list of always-on electronic devices and appliances. Some examples of devices or appliances that sit in an “inactive-but-ready” state are programmable coffee makers, gaming consoles, washers and dryers with electronic panels, microwaves, smart televisions, cable boxes, audio systems, computers, laptop and cell phone chargers, printers, clock radios, security cameras, and battery chargers.

So how did we get here? With the constantly increasing demand for convenience, manufacturers compete to be the most innovative and to provide instant gratification to consumers to maintain or increase their market share. This has led to device modifications that meet or exceed our consumer expectations, which requires energy consumption even when the devices appear to be turned off.

We are paying increasingly higher electrical bills. Yet, we are the creators of our own misfortune” –

 Minimising phantom energy can help reduce your energy consumption, which is good for the environment while saving money on your electricity bills. A few tips on how to reduce phantom energy waste are as follows:

Unplug electronic appliances and devices when not in use.
The simplest solution to reduce or eliminate phantom energy is to unplug appliances when not in use. However, it is not practical to unplug every item that uses power every day. For example, in the kitchen, a microwave usually ranks at the top of the list of phantom energy waste as they usually display a digital clock 24 hours a day. While it’s easy enough to unplug a microwave that is on the counter, a built-in microwave might prove more difficult to manage. Additionally, the microwave’s digital clock would need to be reset each time the device was plugged back in. You must spend the time to identify the devices and appliances that make the most sense to unplug when not in use. You may find that any device that requires some level of reprogramming when power is interrupted is not ideal to unplug repeatedly even if it does save a few dollars on energy waste.

Individual Device/Appliance Solutions
For single devices, consider purchasing a set of wireless electrical outlet switches which plug into your wall outlet. You then plug your device into them, and a remote control can be used to turn them on or off without having to walk around the house doing it manually.

Smart home devices such as Amazon Alexa or Apple’s HomePod may have an Alexa-ready or Siri-adaptable smart plug. These work in a similar way to wireless electrical switches but can be controlled from an app on your phone or your voice using an Amazon Echo or an Apple HomePod.

Group Device Solutions
For group devices, for example a computer with monitor, printer, and possibly powered PC speakers all connected to electricity, when the computer turns off, many people leave the rest of the equipment on. The best solution is an energy-saving surge protector which, for example would include one master outlet and multiple additional outlets that will only turn on when the master device draws power. So, when the computer is on and drawing power, the rest of the devices (printer, speakers, etc.) would also turn on. Likewise, when the computer is turned off, the rest of the devices would be cut from the power supply as well.

Some surge protectors also include additional always-on outlets so that you can include devices that you do not want to automatically shut down.

If you have an AMI meter installed, you can create an account at and track your energy usage and see the reduction in power consumption once measures have been taken to reduce phantom power.

For more tips on energy efficiency visit


News Archives

Blog Archive