Put Your Energy To Good Use

When you turn off an electronic device, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has stopped using electricity. Many electronics have a standby mode and draw an electric current even while they’re turned off.

Known as “phantom” loads, these currents are small, but can add up over time. According to a study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the average home loses 8 percent of its monthly energy consumption to electronic devices that are turned off.

What does that amount to? According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the average electric co-op residential member consumes roughly 13,900 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. That means 1,112 kWh is wasted annually. At 10 cents kWh, the average household spends $111.00 per year to pay for phantom loads.

There are ways to minimize the costs that result from phantom loads. Consider plugging home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; then turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use. Power strips work like an extension of the wall outlet by cutting all power to plugs when the yare switched off.

Do the same with cell phone, laptop and other batter chargers. Even when chargers aren’t actively charging anything, they often still draw power.

“Smart” power strips are another option to use to limit phantom loads. In each smart strip there are specially marked outlets that keep powering devices when they’re turned off and others that completely cut off electric current.

Smart strips allow consumers to turn off parts of a home entertainment system, such as a stereo or DVD player, without losing the ability to record programs to a DVR or having to reprogram the cable box.

Consumers should always look for ENERGY STAR when purchasing electronics. Ask the salesperson about a device’s standby power consumption. There can be big differences in power consumption between manufacturers, and sometimes even between models from the same manufacturer.

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