Standby Power (aka Phantom Load or Vampire Draw) – It may not really be off when you think it is!

You may not realize this, but many of the electrical devices in your home can draw power even when they are “turned off”. This is sometimes called Phantom Load, Vampire Draw, or Standby Power.

From Wikipedia “Standby power, also called vampire power, vampire draw, phantom load, or leaking electricity, refers to the electric power consumed by electronic and electrical appliances while they are switched off (but are designed to draw some power) or in a standby mode.”

Many devices have this “feature” that when they are switched off, using the power button, they are in a standby mode rather than truly being off. This means that the device will still draw power. According to Wikipedia most developed countries had regulations in place by 2010 that restricted this power consumption to around 1 watt. You will have to look up the specifics for your country / location to be certain what the regulations are.

The reason I mention this is that such devices can contribute to higher electric / hydro costs as they are consuming electricity while unused.

This problem is quite easy to solve. When you aren’t using something, unplug it. But if you are like me, that could be a problem as I am forgetful and absent minded sometimes but there are products out there that can help with this. Power bars are the most common I have seen so here are a few types:

  1. Basic power bar with a switch – You can simply plug all of your devices into one of these and turn off the switch on the bar when you want to turn everything off.
  2. Power bar with a timer – You can get power bars that have timers on them so they can be set to turn off (and / or on) whenever you want. Here is an example by Globe Electric.
  3. Load sensing power bar – These are probably the most expensive but are more convenient. Basically they have one plug that controls all others. So if you plug the TV into the master, the other plugs will turn off and on only when the master senses a load. This is perfect for a TV / Media center as you generally only need the other devices (stereo, cable box, dish receiver, etc) when the TV is on.  Here is an example of one by Smart Strip.

The links provided above are just examples that I found quickly on Amazon. Click here for a quick search of power bar on Amazon.

Hopefully this can help you further reduce your energy costs and usage.


Thanks for reading! Please share if this was helpful!

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