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How much does your phantom load affect your electric bill?

Phantom load–sometimes called “vampire power”–refers to home appliances still using energy even after you turn them off. So what impact does that have on your electric bill?

About 10 percent of your energy costs come from wasted power. The National Resources Defense Council found phantom loads account for $19 billion annually across American households. That’s about $200 from every household’s yearly electricity costs. Common items in your home that contribute to this include:

  • Cable DVR systems
  • Cell phone/tablet chargers
  • Desktop computers and printers
  • Kids’ gaming systems
  • Devices with indicator lights

With many plugged-in devices, even if their turned off they’re still performing system updates, recording your favorite TV shows and just staying ready for your next use. Check out this image (below) from MoneyMow.com that breaks down how much each appliance contributes to your phantom load costs.

So how do you know if your appliances are still using power? Consider whether or not the appliance is actually “working.” For example, when a table lamp is off but plugged in, it’s not using any power to light the room. Same with a toaster, unless it has an indicator light. Your smartphone and tablet chargers still use power even after you disconnect your device. Your cable box is always on, especially if you record TV shows with a DVR.

One of the simplest things you can do to curb this loss is getting a smart power strip. Smart power strips allow you to cut power to devices that aren’t in use, but also keep the ones that need to stay on, such as a cable box, running.

You can also invest in certified Energy Star appliances. They perform just as well–if not better–than your standard appliances, but are specifically designed to conserve energy while helping you save money on your energy costs.

If you’re looking for more ways to reduce your electric bill while staying energy efficient, visit CUB’s Electric page.