Phantom Loads (Part 11 Home Energy)

Many appliances will draw electricity while plugged in but not in use. The trick is to find out which ones are drawing enough power to be concerned about either unplugging them or putting them on a power strip that you turn off.


A handy tool called a watt meter can be used to determine this. You can buy one for about $40. You plug the appliance into the watt meter and the meter into the outlet. Then read the results after it has had enough time to make a good yearly projection.

Watt Meter

Older televisions tend to be the biggest offenders. People also tend to have these old TVs plugged into areas where they never use them, like the exercise area in the basement that they use twice a year. There are old TV’s that can use 400 KWH just sitting there plugged in for a year.


From my testing experience I have found that the following items use a lot of electricity at rest, so therefore warrant unplugging them or putting them on a power strip to be turned off.

-TV’s, especially older ones        

-DVR’s, cable boxes       

-Older Computers          

-Old Fashioned Jukebox              

-TV/ VCR combos            


The below items typically do not use much power, so unplugging or turning off at a power strip will not yield much energy savings.



-Phone chargers

-Printer (Turned off but plugged in)



ROI phantom load removal: 200% AVG

(Does require some occupant discipline to turn off power strips when not in use)

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