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Reduce Your Energy Costs

General Interest

If your electricity bills have been high of late, the problem may be phantom loads, or in other words the power electrical devices draw, even when they’re switched off. Most of us are aware that stereo equipment, TVs, satellite receivers, DVD players and cordless phones, all continue to use electricity long after they’ve been turned off. But one of the largest culprits is battery chargers for iPods, iPads, Notebooks and rechargeable drill battery chargers, which continue to draw power even when the battery has completed charging.

Transformers for keyboards, printers, fax machines and even coffeemakers are also energy villains, as they continue to draw power 24/7, even when they’re not in use. Incredibly some devices like satellite receivers can use nearly as much power while they are turned off (but are still plugged in), as they do when they are turned on!

But not all phantom loads are bad. Some equipment, for example SKY and programmable DVD recorders are actually hard at work, retaining settings to record programmes. If you switch these devices off, settings will be erased. Another gadget to treat cautiously is the garage door opener – the remotes for these require a small input of electricity to keep operating; certainly something to bear in mind if you’re going away for any length of time. But other displays like the LED clocks on microwaves and coffee-makers, are useless and can be turned off, unless you actually use them to keep track of time.

Eliminating phantom loads is so straight forward that you’ll be left wondering why you didn’t banish them from your home years ago. As a general rule of thumb if you simply turn off any device that’s operated by remote control, or any that have a LED light that stays on all of the time, you’ll make instant savings. Individually phantom loads are small but altogether they add up to about five percent of a household’s overall electrical demand – a sum which can easily be halved, reducing your power bill.

To make things easy, consider investing in power boards, particularly for devices such as printers, routers, desktop computers and TVs; once installed a quick flick of a single switch stops power flow to all. Items such as battery chargers for personal electronic devices such as iPads, phone chargers and drill battery chargers should simply be unplugged from the wall when they are not in use. 

Words: Donna Blaber


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