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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

There's a phantom in your house and it's costing you big time

Home energy saving tips
Leaving unused gadgets plugged in uses energy
By Rebecca Borchers

You pride yourself on doing your part on saving energy. You always turn out the lights, turn off the water while you're brushing your teeth and set the thermostat to the most efficient temperature. I'm sorry to break it to you, but despite your efforts, countless watts of energy and hundreds of dollars are still being wasted. The culprit? Phantom energy. 

Every time you leave an appliance or electronic of some sort plugged in, it slowly sucks away energy. Now I'm not saying unplug your oven every time you leave your house, but here are five ways to say goodbye to that pesky phantom and truly be energy efficient.


1. Use power strips

Unplugging electronics if you know you will not be using them for an extended period can help cut back on phantom energy usage. Power strips ease this process because it can stay plugged into an outlet with all of your electronics plugged into it. Then when you leave, or are done using the power, you can just press one off button.

There is no point in leaving things plugged in while they are not in use. Even leaving your cellphone charger plugged into an outlet without your phone attached can use energy. Do a little research online and find the best power strips for your needs.


2. Look for products that use less power in standby

When you are shopping for electronics, there can sometimes be an option to buy something that uses less energy when it is in standby mode. Companies are switching to this option as the attention is brought to this issue of phantom energy usage.

You should be looking for EnergyStar certified products. They can be trusted to make a significant impact on your monthly power bill.


3. Only leave on electronics you use daily

If there is a room in your house or multiple rooms that you are never in think about shutting off and unplugging the electronics that are in those rooms completely. Unplug TVs and cable boxes most importantly. They can be major players in phantom energy usage.


4. Buy some gadgets

There are things such as smart power strips that can help fight this battle of phantom energy usage. They have all kinds of smart power strips that will turn off and on depending on various situations.

In a recent article, the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) discusses some of these smart power strips. Timer-equipped, current sensing and occupancy sensing are smart power strips talked about within the article.

Timer-equipped smart power strips are what they sound like-- you can program them to turn off on their own at a certain time and turn on at a certain time. These are great if you are out of town because they can control the light to turn on, so it looks like you are home! This is great for protecting your home from burglary, too.

Occupancy-sensing smart power strips just have motion detectors to turn on the electronics around you, or at least turn them on to standby mode, so they are ready to for use.

Current-sensing smart power strips are probably the coolest out of these three. They can sense when something is not being used for a while and has been in standby. It turns the electronics off that are in standby for a significant amount of time.


5. Gain more knowledge about phantom energy usage

Buying your own power meter can help you discover what is using the most energy in your home, which can be an interesting learning experience. You can share what you find out with friends and family and help them out, too.

Finding out what is using the most phantom energy usage and doing something about it is great on your pockets. You can feel better about your usage and feel like your effort has paid off.

About the author: Along with the majority of her fellow Gen-Y's, Rebecca Borchers is fully aware of the mess preceeding generations have left the future. Between a LEED certified house complete with solar panels and her trusty bike, she does her best to leave as little of a footprint on this earth as possible. While she isn't out saving the world, you can find Rebecca sitting at a quaint coffee shop exercising her talents as a professional writer for Bob Heinmiller Solar. Be sure to follow her on Google+!

Image license: Scot Rumery, CC BY-SA 2.0