Sunday, April 14, 2024

Practically Living Green

Showing practical reasons to live green.

Journal & Opinions

What Are Phantom Loads And Why Do They Matter?

Have you ever felt like your electricity bill is much higher than it should be? This typically causes many to try and reduce light usage, switch to energy-efficient appliances, and more to help keep the bill low. What if I told you the real culprit was phantom loads?

Simply put, a phantom load is the electricity that goes into an appliance when it is not in use. For example, ever wonder how your microwave is able to show you what time it is when it is not nuking that burrito? Well, that’s because it’s still drawing power.

Of course, that’s just one of about a hundred examples. The truth is that phantom loads appear in more appliances than you would think. And it’s becoming a bigger problem as our technology becomes more advanced.

Let’s take a look at how severe phantom loads really are and why they matter.

Why Are Phantom Loads Increasing?

Phantom loads have been around for decades, but they have become much more apparent in the last, and that is because more appliances rely on rest or standby modes.

This is where the device uses little power so it can turn on quickly when needed.

For example, if you took a look at modern game consoles like the PlayStation 5, rest mode allows you to charge your controllers and download game updates automatically. And the system itself will turn on faster.

While this uses less power than when the console is on, it can still add up every month.

This isn’t exclusive to game consoles either. Computers, laptops, smartphones, televisions, coffee makers, and most hardware created in the last 10 years, probably draw power when it is “off” or in standby mode.

So, how much energy does this actually use?

Well, it is estimated to contribute 10% of your energy bill every month. So yeah, it’s not insignificant.

But Why Does It Matter?

Besides saving a significant amount of money every year? Generating that energy causes a lot of emissions. When you remember that 10% of the energy in a home is lost to phantom charges, and then multiply that by how many households there are, the picture gets a lot clearer.

For reference, Harvard researchers estimated that phantom loads are responsible for 1% of the world’s emissions. To put that into more context, the airline industry contributes 2% of global emissions, thus phantom load emissions are half that.

When you think about it for a moment, you’d realize that it is literally energy being used to power something that is not being used.

It’s a huge problem that as a society, we need to address properly. So, how can we actually stop it from happening?

The simplest way is to just unplug an appliance when you are not using it. This completely eliminates its ability to use electricity. Now I think it’s unrealistic for a regular household to unplug a tv when they turn it off.

It’s a lot of work in some cases to even do that.

Instead, using a surge protector can make it easier. Because instead of having to unplug multiple appliances, you can simply turn the surge protector off with a single switch.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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