Contact Us

Our Services

Published Columns»
  •Economics of Portable Power
  •Vehicle Efficiency
  •Repair or Replace?
  •Being Water Wise
  •Heating and Cooling Alternatives
  •The Phantom Strikes Again
  •Appliance Comparison
  •Green Power
  •Read the Manual, Read the Meter
  •Small Is Beautiful
  •Kitchen Waste
  •Those Darn Numbers
  •Stringing You a Line
  •The Nuclear Roadshow
  •Smart Facts
  •How Low Can You Go?
  •Care and Feeding of CF Bulbs
  •Take an LED light for a spin
  •Showered with Feedback
  •The heat is on for new records
  •Charting the Changes
  •Will you be in hot water as the rates rise?
  •What about Solar?
  •Time shifting your load
  •Where do I start?
  •Think like Scrooge
  •Heating water can be a tankless job
  •Q: Should I buy a DC furnace fan?
  •Turning an Emergency into an Inconvenience
  •The Shock of the Bill
  •Recipe for Kitchen Cuts
  •Shedding some light on the subject
  •The phantom strikes

Your Consumption

   How to Read Your Meter  

   Quick Home Audit  


Your Bill

   Cost Breakdown  

   Smart Meter Costs  

   Bill Simulator  

External Links

© 2004-2019 John Ford

Become an Educated Energy Consumer    OttawaEnergyAudit     Thursday 20 June 2019
Current Time-of-use pricing is: low at 14.477¢/kWh
Contact us now to book your audit.

Published Columns: February 2004
Curbing Your Consumption:
The phantom strikes

By John Ford and David Chernushenko

Find and kill phantom loads!

Many consumers don't realize that there are dozens of parasites in their house eating up their electricity every hour of every day. Many of today's appliances use power even when you think they are off. It is estimated that in California the average home uses 600 kWh per year or 10% of total consumption powering appliances in 'standby mode.' This is not an insignificant number! So, which appliances are suspects? Firstly, anything with a separate 'power pack' adapter (radios, some lamps, etc.). These supplies can use between 5 and 20 watts each, even when the appliance is off. To make sure these are off when the appliance is not in use, plug several of the culprits into a switchable power bar. Even for a 5 watt loss, the $6 cost of a power bar can be recovered in less than one year at 10 cents/kWh.

'Instant On' TVs will use power to keep the tube warm. That could easily be 25 watts, or almost $22 a year. They may have a switch for 'holiday mode' which will truly turn them off.

If your appliance has a clock, it has a phantom load! Buy a battery powered clock and unplug the appliance. When you shop for new appliances, find one without a clock or phantom load.

That 10-watt clock radio in your bathroom that you listen to for 10 minutes in the morning while you blow-dry your hair? Your 1,000 watt hair dryer would be using less power each day!

If you have a computer, are all of your devices plugged in all the time? Make sure you put them on a switched power bar, including your DSL or cable modem.

One word of warning though: Some appliances have a special power-down cycle to protect themselves when they are turned off. Make sure you turn them off with their own power switch before switching the power bar off. For example: inkjet printers park their heads to prevent drying out and clogging the print head.

Next month: How to reduce your lighting loads.

John Ford is a technology consultant, and owner of a small energy conservation business. He has won the Green Party nomination in Ottawa South for the upcoming federal election.

David Chernushenko is a sustainability advisor to business, governments and homeowners and the federal Green Party candidate for Ottawa Centre.