October 28, 2022

Facts and fixes for Phantom Power

Beware! You may have a shadowy force lurking in your midst, wasting energy and increasing your electricity bill. Your home may be haunted by phantom power!

Also known as standby power, phantom power is the electricity being used by all the appliances, devices, and equipment around your home that you keep plugged in – and drawing energy – even when you’re not using them. What’s scary is you’re paying for all that extra electricity.

Take a moment to think about your home. How many appliances in your kitchen are always plugged in – your coffee maker, toaster, kettle, food processor? How about TVs, computers, PVRs, gaming consoles and mobile phone chargers, not to mention lamps, alarm clocks and electric toothbrushes? You get the idea.

In fact, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), “…75 per cent of the electricity these devices consume is used when they aren’t even on. [This] can add up to 10 per cent of a home’s energy costs.”

But fear not! There are ways to reduce phantom power and save on your electricity bill.

  • Unplug chargers for your mobile phones, tablets, and other devices when they are not in use.
  • Don’t charge your devices overnight. Leaving them plugged in after they are fully charged not only wastes power, but it can also reduce the battery life due to overheating.
  • Check if your appliances come with power save mode and use this option whenever possible.
Image for Phantom Power - Unplugging Electrical Equipment
  • Use power bars for devices in specific rooms – think entertainment devices, office equipment, and kitchen appliances. With the flip of a single switch, you can easily turn off multiple devices after use. Consider choosing power bars with a surge protector to safeguard devices in case of a power outage.
  • When buying new appliances or electronics, look for the ENERGY STAR® certified label. These are designed for lower power usage while offering the same performance as less energy efficient choices.
  • Newer homes and condos often come with “switched outlets”. One outlet can turn off all equipment connected to the switch at once, either in a single room or area of the home, to save energy overnight or when you’re away.

Following even a few of these tips can keep you from being “tricked” into consuming more energy, with the treat of a lower electricity bill at the end of the month.