Power Supply Savings: What Is Ghost Electricity?

Date Feb 24, 2021
Blog category Power
By Staff Writer

One of the biggest expenses homeowners and tenants face on a monthly basis is their electric bills. The use of electricity has been constant in our lives that it's easy to forget how much we depend on it from the refrigerator to our gadgets that we use daily. 

Now that most of us are stuck at home because of the pandemic, it's not surprising that our electric bills got more expensive as well. If you're looking for ways to save electricity and lower your carbon footprints, you'd be surprised at the things you overlook at home that could save you a lot on your future bills!

Sure, you turn off your gadgets and appliances before going to bed or leaving the house, but did you know that you may be still consuming energy regardless?

What is ghost electricity?

Ghost electricity (also known as vampire power, phantom power, or idle current) is the energy used by appliances and electronics even when they are turned off but still plugged in to a power outlet. Surprisingly, the majority of our electrical products aren't entirely switched off, unless they're unplugged.

Believe it or not, these products draw power 24 hours a day. This power consumption — often without our knowledge — is called "standby power." Soft keypads, LED status lights, and sensors are just some features of our power supplies that consume electricity. There are also instances where standby power is caused by a device's circuits that get energized even when it is "off."

According to LBL, there are at most 40 products regularly drawing power in an average home. The electricity going through your appliances may be relatively small, but if you combine the power consumption of all these "sleeping" devices they may account for as much as 10% of electricity use. Aside from that is its environmental impact, which contributes a huge amount of carbon dioxide.


How do I know if my appliances draw standby power?

Any device with an external power supply, charges batteries, has remote controls, and continuous display draws power even when turned off. Some examples are TV, DVD player, charger, microwave, cable boxes, etc.

You're probably wondering why some devices have standby power, and the main reason is that some of them actually require this feature to function. Remote controls and telephones need this to maintain signal reception capability, while some appliances such as refrigerators need it to monitor temperature, etc.

Older appliances such as washers and dryers with manual dials and ovens without digital clocks are less likely to draw standby power, mainly because they have no features that require electricity in standby mode.

How can I reduce the use of ghost electricity?

Use a power strip

A power strip provides extra outlets for multiple devices, and most power strips don't consume electricity when switched off. Individually unplugging devices can be tasking with the likes of video game consoles or an entertainment system, but with a power strip, you can easily unplug these devices all at once when you're not using them and simply plug them back in when you need it.

Opt for low standby products

It's a given that there are certain devices we have at home that we cannot simply unplug. A perfect example of this is our refrigerator (unless, of course, it's empty), but what you can do when you shop for appliances like this in the future is to ask for the most efficient options and compare their Energy Star ratings for standby power before purchasing.

Read: Most Popular Energy-Efficient Home Appliances of 2020

Invest in low-cost watt-meter

It's not always easy to identify which of your products consume ghost electricity. Get an affordable watt-meter to help you detect the drawing power devices at your home even when they're in "sleep" mode.

What are the other ways I can save on electricity?

Unplug your appliances and devices

This is probably the easiest way you can do to avoid ghost electricity at your home. As simple as unplugging your devices can save you on your next electric bill. Check every part of your place to see any plugged devices you aren't using, such as phone chargers, humidifiers, fans, and kitchen devices like a toaster, blender, etc. Another good habit to cultivate is to unplug everything (unless your fridge is packed with food, by all means, keep it on) if you're heading out or going on a vacation.

Switch to LED lightbulbs

Say goodbye to your traditional light bulbs and switch to LED light bulbs. They consume 75% less energy than the traditional ones and even last 25 times longer!

Read: 7 Best Energy-Saving Tips For Your Home

Use natural light/heat

Utilize natural light and heat at home! Instead of using artificial light, open your curtains or windows during the day to let that natural light in.

Use slow cooker

Invest in one if you haven't yet! It's one of the most energy-efficient kitchen appliances today and compared to other conventional ovens, it uses less electricity.

Reduce screen time

Another thing you can do is reduce your screen time, and choose activities that don't require the use of electricity instead. Pick up that book you've been meaning to read, play board games with your family or roommates, start a new hobby, and learn how to play an instrument, or do simple household chores like cleaning and gardening.

Switch to a better Power plan

Make sure your current power plan suits your needs! Do they practice honesty and transparency? Choose a plan that fits your household size and monthly energy usage to truly save money in the long run.

Use CompareBear's comparison tool to find the best Power providers in your area.

This article is included in Twinkl's Eco-Friendly and Sustainability campaign, and is part of their article Some great ideas to be more sustainable in 2021.