Managing Phantom Power – A Cost-Effective Energy Management Strategy at Home


January 24, 2014 - 10:15

In the middle of another cold Canadian winter, many of us have probably spent a moment or two inspecting the drafts coming from the doors in our homes or apartments. If it’s cold then sure, maybe you’ll get around to weather-stripping or replacing the door in the spring (or at least get the landlord to do it). Replacing old windows, doors, and skylights with energy efficient models can make your home 7% to 15% more energy efficient!

Right now, it’s far too cold to get going on any home renovation projects, but there is something you can do that will bring down your electricity costs without embarking on a big retrofit project. The name is scary, but the task is quite easy – eliminate phantom power. Phantom power is electricity that is used by an appliance or electronic device when the equipment is either in standby mode or turned off entirely. You might feel a little bit robbed when you hear that, considering that you probably make sure to turn off the television, computer, and everything else in your home when you go to bed for the night.

Fortunately, eliminating standby power is actually quite easy – and all you need to invest in is a couple of power bars that have on/off switches, commonly referred to as kill switches. You’ll also have to be sure to commit to turning off the power bars that the out-of-use appliances are plugged in to, in order to fully reap the energy saving benefits. It’s estimated that phantom power contributes about 10% of a family’s annual electricity bill – if you eliminate the vast majority of that, you’re basically looking at a free month of electricity each year – definitely worth considering.

Below is some advice on which devices to plug into the same power bar in your living room, home office, and kitchen. In the bathrooms and bedrooms, we recommend simply unplugging any devices that are out of use to avoid purchasing another power bar. When you’re heading out of the house for any reason, or when you’re going to bed for the night, make sure the power bars that supply these devices are set to off. If you’ve already experimented with managing phantom power, share your progress with us on social media!



Feel free to continue the discussion on our LinkedIn Group, our Twitter feed or just send us an message if you’re not the social media type.


Liam Conway, Technical Analyst