Standby power, also known as vampire power, phantom load or leaking electricity, is the electricity used by appliances in your home when they are “off”. Even if you turn off all of your lights, unplug your fridge, and turn off your furnace, your electricity meter will continue to spin.
Some key offenders are television sets and DVD players (they’re always “watching” for signal from your remote control) and computers (the BIOS remains powered up and keeps the clock charged even when the machine is off) stoves (if they have a clock). Standby power is irritating because it often exists for no other reason than to wait for your input during the times when you’re not around.
The best advice I can give is: have all of your devices on a good power strip. First, you get surge protection which will extend the life of your electronics. More importantly, you can unplug everything all at once. Just switching off the power bar won’t do the trick because the surge protection will remain charged in order to prevent damage to any connected components during a line spike.
Sometimes you may not want to unplug everything. For example, some cable receivers take several hours to rebuild their libraries after a power outage – you may decide to unplug many but not all devices. There are all sorts of different power bars on the market that accommodate one or two “always on” plugs, allowing you to disconnect the rest of the outlets manually or with a timer.
While the amount of electricity used by standby power may seem small in the scheme of things, we’ve already shown that small efforts add up to big changes. Cutting out that tiny amount of waste may not seem like the ticket out of an energy crisis, but why waste unnecessarily?