Did you know that many of your devices and appliances are using up electricity even when they are not in use? Read on to learn why this happens and how to minimize its impact. 

What is phantom energy?

When we plug a device into an outlet, we put that device into “standby mode”. Standby mode means that the device will draw power from the outlet even if the device is off; This allows the device to be off but ready for when we eventually turn it on. This means that whenever we have a device plugged in, it still draws energy even when it’s turned off. 

We call this phantom energy, but it’s also known as: 

  1. Phantom power
  2. Standby power
  3. Vampire draw
  4. Vampire load
  5. Electricity leaking

The Issue with phantom energy

Have a look around the room you are in. How many devices are plugged into the outlets? How many of those devices are off? Even though those devices are off, many are still using up electricity. 


What is the issue here? 

  • You are paying for energy that you are not using 
  • Energy is being wasted, which can leave a negative impact on the environment.

Just how much energy is used when a device is powered off but plugged in?

This is variable since the amount of energy used depends on the device itself, but here is a list of devices that have the highest amount of power draws (up to 64W used on standby!). 


  • Any remote powered devices: speakers, T.Vs, DVD players, video game consoles, cable boxes etc 
  • Desktop computers, laptops (more energy is drawn if you use a screen saver)

And here are some items that draw power but not has much as the items listed above (up to 9W used on standby): 

  • LCD computer monitor
  • Ink jet printer
  • Phone charger
  • Computer speakers
  • Fax machine

Overall, phantom energy can add up to 10%-23% of your overall energy use. It’s not realistic to get that number down to 0%, but we can at least help you bring that number down a significant amount.

Does this mean I have to unplug everything in order to save energy?

Well, you could… but that could be time-consuming and frustrating. Luckily, there are other solutions. 


  1. Group Items that are commonly used together and attach them to a power strip, when they are not in use, turn the power strip off.
  2. Consider installing switch outlets: that way, you can turn the outlet off instead of needing to unplug all the devices that are plugged into it. 
  3. Consider installing smart outlets for devices that you use on a schedule, or for outlets that you would like to turn off with your phone. 
  4. And of course, you can always manually unplug your devices. This method may be time-consuming depending on how many devices you have, so we suggest adopting some of the above techniques in conjunction with manual unplugging. 

Keep in mind, items that have clocks/timers in them. You may not want to unplug these items, or else you will have to reset the clock every time!


Why spend money on energy you are not even using? With a little organization and coordination, you can cut your phantom energy usage significantly! We hope this article has given you some insight on what you can do to save on energy in your home. 

Doing any renovations or new construction? You might want to consider installing switch outlets and smart outlets in order to save on electricity and optimize your home! Talk to CBS Electric today to get started.

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