Insights > Don’t Get ‘Tricked’ into Paying for More Electricity than You Use

Don’t Get ‘Tricked’ into Paying for More Electricity than You Use


Halloween is in the air, and vampires and phantoms are lurking about, draining energy from your home and money from your wallet. 

Vampire power and phantom loads, that is. 

Also known as standby power, vampire power or phantom load is the energy used by certain plugged-in appliances and electronic devices, even when they are in standby mode or turned off.

The most common culprits include electronics with remote controls, built-in clocks or timers and instant-on features such as televisions, computers, printers, video game consoles and DVD players.

But anything with a plug can be a phantom power user. So even if your microwave is turned off, if its plug is in the socket vampire power is being sucked away. Even if your cell phone is fully charged, if the charger is plugged in, power is being drained – and so is your wallet.

While it might seem like a trivial amount, it’s spooky how much that wasted energy can add up over time and show up on your monthly utility bills. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as much as 10 percent of residential electricity use goes toward powering appliances in standby power mode. What a treat it would be to save 10 percent on your electric bill!

But fear not!! A few simple steps can help you slay energy vampires and slash your electricity bill:

  • Get hip to the strip. Purchase an advanced power strip, plug appliances into it and turn the strip off when the appliances are not in use.
  • Go unplugged. Unplug small transformers (battery chargers and power adapters) when products are fully charged or not in use. Small transformers come with many electronics, such as cell phones and electric shavers, and plug into standard wall outlets.
  • Upgrade wisely. When it comes time to send old appliances and electronics to the graveyard, check the label on their replacements. If purchasing an ENERGY STAR-labeled product, choose the model that uses the least amount of vampire, phantom or standby power. If the amount isn’t listed on the label, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR website to find information about specific products.
  • Get more sleep. Set your computer to sleep mode, stop a video game and power down your game console when not using it.

For more information on energy conservation and a variety of money saving tips, visit

Mara Hartmann
Sr Lead Communications Specialist