Many appliances, including microwaves, televisions, computers, and gaming consoles, use power when they are turned off. The Department of Energy claims that vampire appliance costs contribute about 4 percent of the average home’s electricity bill. Phantom load is another term for this type of power use. Standby lights, which show that the system is not turned on, drain power, and battery chargers can use energy even after the battery is fully charged. According to the Energy Savers Blog, most devices that can be turned on with a remote control also drain power because of the remote control system.
To prevent a vampire appliance from using power, it needs to be completely disconnected from all power lines. With a charger, even if the charger itself is not connected to the laptop, phone, or other device that it recharges, the charger will still drain power. Power strips, which are commonly used with computers and electronics because they protect several devices from a power surge, can disconnect all connected devices at once. The power strip itself can still drain power if it has activator lights, a battery pack, or other features. Remember that disconnecting the devices with the power strip removes their remote activation features, such as scheduled operation to record a television show, according to Energy Star.
Lawrence Berkeley Labs measured the power consumption of many types of appliances when they are turned off, but still in standby mode. Audio equipment, including receivers and mini systems, used the most power. A laptop computer uses much more power than a desktop computer or other types of computer equipment, because of its battery charger. TVs use more standby power than other appliances, and rear projection TVs use the most standby power of any device that the lab studied.
Because some types of appliances need to use standby power, another solution is to reduce the amount of power that the appliances use. A typical goal is 1 watt or less standby power for each appliance, according to the National Institutes of Health. Newer appliances are often designed to use less standby power, although a customer may need to ask around to find the amount of standby power usage. It’s also possible to use a meter to measure an individual appliance’s power usage in the home, including standby power usage.