Energy Efficiency in Homes and Buildings: Phantom Load

(Nyamadzawo Collins) #1

I'am doing a certificate in GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE ENERGY with the University of Florida and what a great experience reading about The History of Energy and Transportation statistics as taught by Wendell A. Porter, Ph.D., P.E. What I will do here is share some of the stuff that I would have learnt and today I will talk of something called Phantom Load.

Chances are, you’ve never heard of the term “phantom load.” What is it and how does it affect you?


In a nutshell, the phantom load is the electricity consumed by a device when it is turned off. For example, your television consumes electricity as it waits for you to hit the “on” button on your remote. The clock in your house uses up energy 24/7 to keep track of time. Devices that have a phantom load are sometimes called “vampires.” These devices have a hidden energy cost that most people are never even aware of. Nationally, phantom loads make up about six percent of our energy consumption. This translates into billions of dollars spent and countless amounts of pollution emitted into our air. Obviously, phantom loads are a huge problem, especially as energy costs rise and our fossil fuel reserves near depletion.


  • Unplug all devices when not in use.
  • Alternatively, plug your devices into a power strip and turn the strip off when you go to sleep.
  • Buy Energy Star appliances to reduce your phantom load for devices that would be impractical to turn off.
  • Tell others about this phenomenon known as phantom load. Chances are, they’ve never heard of it either
  • Watch out for the cube shaped transformers that plug into the wall. These buggers are 60-80% inefficient when plugged in, so it is especially important that these are on power strips.
  • Lead by example. If you start turning off your devices, maybe your roommates or family will too.


  • One study estimated that the phantom load from TV’s alone was equal to the output of a Chernobyl sized power plant
  • A decrease of only 1% in industrial energy use would save the equivalent of about 55 million barrels of oil per year, worth about $1 billion.
  • Nationally, phantom loads make up about six per cent of our entire residential electricity consumption
  • Worldwide, some 2 billion people are currently without electricity

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