Ghost Busting

Friday, January 20, 2012 9:30 PM by Betty Brennan in Professional and Industry Tips

It has so many names – ghost load, phantom load, vampire draw, standby power. What they all refer to is that many electronic appliances and equipment use power even when they are off. Your amazing stereo setup? Your home theater extravaganza? They’re spinning your meter while you’re hard at work, trying to pay your power bill. Any device that has an “instant-on” feature is pulling power when turned off, like your TV or Blu-Ray / DVD player. Anything that has a transformer block / brick is drawing power when the component is turned off. The warmer that transformer gets, the more power it drains. Newer electronics are having to meet stricter standards for how much standby power they can draw, but it doesn’t make sense to replace electronics just because they’re energy hogs. So what can you do?

The answer is simple. A lot of these components are already plugged into a surge protector, or they should be, if you want to protect what you’ve sunk serious money into. Just shift that surge protector so that it’s easy to reach. When you’re not watching TV or rocking the suburbs, switch off the surge protector. Ghost load busted. A couple of switches to flip and you’ll be saving $5-$10 off your power bill each month.

Have problems bending over? Well, the smart folks at Belkin have developed a power strip (the Conserve Smart AV F7C007q) that has “slaved” five outlets to a “master” outlet. If you plug your TV into the Master outlet and your DVD player, Xbox, etc. into the Slave outlets, once you turn off your TV, the strip turns off the other items as well. Not just turns them off, but also blocks standby power. We like these strips so much, we’ve started using them with all our audio-visual interactives.

Have you started busting your ghost loads? What sneaky appliances have you caught sucking power?

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