Phantom Loads

We have a host of time and labor-saving appliances available to help us do our work whenever we need their service. Some of these appliances use electricity only when you turn them on.

But consider this…many appliances are quietly using energy around the clock, even though you think they are turned off! The power supplies to your instant-on TVs, computers and their peripherals, cordless phones, cell phone chargers, clocks on microwaves and electric ranges, etc., are examples of “phantom loads” that steadily consume electricity whether you are using the device or not.

In addition, any appliance that has a cube-shaped transformer (sometimes called AC adaptors) on the end of its cord is also creating a phantom load. That’s why these transformers feel warm even though the device is off. Another type of phantom load is the oil heater in an air source heat pump. Even though heat pumps are an energy-efficient means for heating and cooling your home, there is a steady, subtle draw of electricity to heat the oil fluid in the sump of the heat pump. Phantom loads add up to a huge waste of electricity in the U.S. that costs consumers billions of dollars per year and many billions of kilowatt-hours. The total phantom load in your home could account for substantial energy use.