The Phantom of the Outlet could be haunting your home

Phantom of the Outlet

Ghosts, and goblins, and ghouls, oh my! Halloween and its respective cast of characters are looming; but don’t fall victim to a real fright that could be creeping around the corners of your own home—the Phantom of the Outlet.

Unlike the eerie myths associated with the season, the Phantom of the Outlet is all too real, sneakily sucking the life out of your electric bills and hiding in unassuming places. But don’t run away screaming just yet. Our list of tips will have you and your wallet protected faster than a bat outta hell.

Who is the Phantom of the Outlet?

The Phantom of the Outlet disguises itself as some of our favorite, everyday electronics like DVD players, DVRs, desktop computers, cellphone chargers, modems, and more. When these devices are plugged in but unused, the phantom strikes—drawing, anywhere between approximately 1 and 37 watts at a given time.

For example, the average set-top box DVR draws 36.68 watts, or roughly .037 kilowatt-hours of power when it’s off, according to the Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory. If you spend two hours a day watching shows from your DVR, that leaves 22 hours each day when it’s turned off but still drawing power. Over the course of a year, that amounts to an extra $60 spent, and 294 kWh of electricity consumed, while you’re not enjoying your device. The average household has 24 electronic devices, according to Forbes, so the money spent on unused power adds up. Pretty scary!

How do we stop the phantom?

The invisible bandit may be sly, but it doesn’t have boo on us. Use these tricks to scare off the phantom and watch savings rise from the dead.

  • Try a Kill-A-Watt meter: This relatively inexpensive tool can help you detect which appliances draw the most energy by measuring their watts, volts, current, frequency and more. The tool also keeps a running total of kWhs (energy consumption).
  • Use power strips: Plugging electronics into power strips make it easy to turn power on and off, all in one shot. Try making each strip home to frequently used items and occasionally used items for even more efficiency. PSEG Long Island also offers rebates on power strips, available here.
  • Make upgrades: Send outdated appliances to the graveyard and upgrade to ENERGY STAR® devices. These certified items have lower standby consumption and use less energy when running. ENERGY STAR dryers use 20 percent less energy than other dryers, with potential savings nearing $1.5 billion each year in utility costs across the country. Before you upgrade, be sure to check out PSEG Long Island’s appliance and product rebates for additional savings.
  • Set idle times: Turning computers, laptops and gaming devices to sleep mode, rather than pausing them for extended periods of time, can drastically cut back on energy consumption.
  • Unplug charged devices: Leaving fully charged devices plugged in continues to draw power, as do remote charging stations. Be sure to take digital cameras, cell phones, small vacuums and other devices off of their respective docks and unplug the charger.

Don’t let the Phantom of the Outlet haunt you and your appliances now, or any other time of year. Happy Halloween!

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