Thursday, June 14, 2007

Oh, Phantom Load....

I wrote about unplugging unused electronics back in December with a delightful story of burning out a generator in the wilderness in Wyoming because I did not understand the concept of phantom load.

The general idea is that when a device is plugged into the wall, it uses electricity, regardless of whether it is "on." So my cell phone charger plugged into the wall? It's on even with no cell phone plugged in. My computer? It's on even when it's off, if it's plugged in. The lamp in the corner that looks great, but that I hardly turn on? It's sucking electricity too when it's off.

Putting Energy Hogs in the Home on a Strict Low-Power Diet in the NYT investigates how much phantom load one writer has in the home-office. He uses the Kill-A-Watt and finds quite the phantom load from his desktop computer. Seriously.

Why is this important? If you use less electricity, not only will your electric bill be less, but you will contribute less to the demand for coal, which fuels many electrical plants and contributes to greenhouse gases.