Dee W
Dee W
  • Hometalker
  • Senecaville, OH
Asked on Jul 24, 2012

phantom power-fact or fiction?

KMS WoodworksBernice HDee W
+40

Answered

I have been unplugging a few things...ex. washer, vcr, microwave and a couple more when not in use to try and save a few pennies. Dear Hubs feels it is not saving and that I am wearing out the plugs and wall outlets. What do you think? Is phantom power a myth...am I doing more harm than good?
43 answers
  • KMS Woodworks
    on Jul 24, 2012

    I have one of those "kill-a-watt" meters and have used it to test some loads around my home...both static and active. My microwave is on the smallish side and when not running (just the clock led thing) it uses about 1.4 watts. When it runs it draws about 1050 watts......my Cordless telephone / answering machine draws 1.8 watts...the DVD player (powered up but not running is 6.8 watts...running it is about 12 watts. When turned off it goes to 0...which means no phantom load. some items have loads others do not. Yes some of these item do use power when in, their standby mode. albeit a small load. My rate for electric is about 11 cents per kilowatt hour, which means my Microwave can sit idle for about 29 day to use 1 kilowatt...so this one appliance costs me about 11 cents per month in standby. If you have a dozen or so devices each using about the same amount of power as this then you may save a buck or so on your monthly bill...is all of that effort of yours worth a dollar a month?... Where you can save the most is to limit higher demand items like incandescent lights, Clothes dryers, water heaters etc...Steps to conserve in those areas really add up quickly. In the entertainment arena...having all of your devices on a single switched surge protector can eliminate the unplugging part.

  • Dee W
    on Jul 24, 2012

    Thank-you KMS. Other than light bulbs-the cheap standard type-I think we are pretty good on the other points you made. In reference to light bulbs if you or anyone else has input. I've not looked into them at all, but we like "warm" light in contrast to "cool".lighting. What do you think of the energy saving bulbs out there? Is there one that will actually fit in a ceiling fan globe?

  • LandlightS
    on Jul 25, 2012

    Dee...hate to say it, but there are no energy savings lamps for your ceiling fan that you will like the looks of (depending on the ceiling fan globes). Go to this link and you will see what the energy saving LED A type lamp looks like. http://www.usalight.com/A-55-LED-Bulb-7-Watt-Philips-p/philips%20a-type%20led%20bulb.htm This a 7 watt lamp that will emit the lumens of a 45 to 50 watt incandescent lamp, and is about the same size. Note the cost for the 40,000 hour lamp life. The color temperature of an incandescent lamp is 2700K (Kelvins.....not like the blue jeans) which is the warm white that is typical of 99% of the current incandescent lamps today. The LED lamp comes in at 3100K which is as close to a warm white as they can do. Your other alternative is the UGLY cool white CFL (compact fluorescent lamp). The future is LED and they are available in almost every lamp shape you are use too. Good luck,and I hope I was able to light up your life a little Gary PS: I do not endorse usalight.com, I just happened to pick them

  • 3po3
    on Jul 25, 2012

    My public library rents the Kill-A-Watt meters that KMS talked about, so that's a free option that can help you close the debate with the hubs. I found about the same thing, with a couple of surprises. My Apple laptop computer (my only computer) uses virtually no power when the lid is closed (even if I don't shut it off or put it on standby), and really only ramps up the power on startup and when launching applications. So I started shutting down my computer LESS rather than trying to save power by shutting it down whenever I left the house and such. On the other hand, my cable box is a huge energy hog, and is sucking up 100 watts even when it is "off." I have started unplugging it, and I don't really watch much TV anyway, but it's a bit of a hassle, because it takes quite a while to get the on-screen guide going again after you plug back in. Finally, we replaced our old fridge with a more energy-efficient model (with a freezer above the fridge and no icemaker - both features save a lot of energy) and saw bigtime immediate savings on our bills.

  • Dee W
    on Jul 25, 2012

    @Landlight-many thanks for your input and the link. Flouresent lights give me a headache and with the news going on and off about incandescent no longer being available we had been stockpiling them but also realize a switch will eventually need to be made. @Steve-Yeah, I have been surprised by the "facts" here although I hadn't seen a drop in kw on our bill and should have realized on my own-but I thought I was doing something beneficial. My appliances are updated and except for the fridge are used sparingly. We use mostly natural light and our big extravagance is the laptop. I will check into the Kill-a-Meter thingy just for my own knowledge and to satisfy my curiosity about how things work. Dear Hubs will be glad he won't be replacing any outlets before their time. lol

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Jul 25, 2012

    Along a parallel note...When I was designing the Solar Electric system for my cabin I chose to light the whole place with LED's ...I modified some basic can lights from the original 50 watt halogens to 12 volt DC LED's. I can light my entire cabin with less than 38 watts...that is for having every light on...I set up the light with 5 circuits so task lighting can be used. here is a blog post I did on the light conversion. https://kmswoodworks.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/to-build-a-better-light-bulb/

  • Jan P
    on Jul 27, 2012

    Used to work for Northeast Utilities, in the call center - we had a list of appliances and what they draw. We also would tell customers that yes, there is phantom power that is being used when those charges are plugged in, coffee makers, toasters, night lights, just walk around your house - you will be amazed at what we all have plugged in! If it's plugged in it draws power. A little here and a little there it all adds up!!

  • Bernice H
    on Jul 27, 2012

    What a great interesting thread!

  • Carol S
    on Jul 27, 2012

    I think as long as you are not pulling out the plug by the CORD -, which is damaging to the connection and wire - you aren't doing much, if any harm. Surge protect, extentions with multi - outlets are a good idea -- I just would want to place them where the shut off switch can be easily reached. They are now making efficiency lights for chandelers and some lights with dimable features. Check with places like Lowes or Homedepot -- I put effeciency bulbs in my reccessed lighting fixture - screw in not plig in. Added bonus - they create less heat ( :

  • We do this! It works! It's been about two years now since we began unplugging stuff when not in use and we saw about a $20+ drop in our monthly bill.

  • Susan
    on Jul 27, 2012

    I hear there are now power/surge protection strips that will "power down" when they sense things are not in use. Not sure of the cost though.

  • Craig W. Isaac Architecture
    on Jul 27, 2012

    any appliance that has a clock or display uses power when not on -

  • Marilee H
    on Jul 27, 2012

    I really think that the small amount of power draw from appliances left plugged in is not a problem. We have replaced virtually every light bulb in our house however. I found I got used to the bright white look of some bulbs, and since I'm getting a little older, it actually helps me see better.

  • Pat S
    on Jul 27, 2012

    I use surge protectors on my PC and convection oven etc and just click them off when I'm not using them.

  • Dee W
    on Jul 27, 2012

    Thank-you everyone for your ideas and input! @Carol-I will look into the efficiency chandelier lights because that accounts for 6 of the ceiling lights I now have. @Susan and Pat S.-I can think of one more place that I could use a surge/multi-outlet system but it may be time to replace the 3 I have. I had heard every 5 years they need replaced so I will be looking into a "power sensitive" type, @Jan P. That is what got me into this to begin with! Sometimes I wish it was easier to get to the outlet for my stove and dryer, barely use them all summer..oh well, do the best I can.

  • Pat S
    on Jul 28, 2012

    The efficiency chandelier lights are very expensive so I use the ones where I can use the dimmer switch and only use as bright as I need.

  • Carol S
    on Jul 28, 2012

    Inital cost on those maybe more but they are long lived and effient. MAybe you'll get lucky and hit a sale - or maybe put them on lay -away. You have several options now --

  • Midway Fence & Decks
    on Jul 28, 2012

    I got a thermometer for Christmas that receives a signal from outside and gives inside temp. as well.When temps outside get lower than inside I shut off AC and use 2 box fans. 1 upstairs and 1 down in open windows.Doing this has reduced power bill up to about 30% depending on weather.

  • Mark C
    on Jul 28, 2012

    Unplugging appliances with "vampire" (LED lights, nightlights, clocks, etc.) is certainly a way to save money. For the pennies a month, not sure it's worth the time. As for appliances like furnace fans, clothes washers, dish washers, refrigerators or anything else with fan motors in them, there are add on systems out there that will save about 10% per month on the average bill according to the US Dept. of Energy. These units go from just under $100 to well over $1,000 and should be installed by an electrician or a smililary knowledgeable person. They save money by reducing peak loads. Old concept, but works if properly installed. One such product is the Power Saver 1200. I am NOT recommending it or saying that I have personal experience with it, but here is the link to it if you are interested. Just south of $100: http://electricsaver1200.com/powersaverppc062212.html?gclid=CP_t16mLvbECFc2a7QodexsATQ CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) bulbs are certainly improving everyday and coming down in price. I am not convinced, however, that they truly last any longer than regular bulbs as most manufacturers claim. That being said, Once I buy a CFL, I never buy a replacement for it because my local home supply store takes them back under warranty. I've returned bulbs over a year old because they have not lived up to longevity statements on the packaging.

  • Dee W
    on Jul 29, 2012

    @Mark C-never heard of the "add-on" feature before, thank-you for the link. I m also glad the CFLs work for you. @ everyone-thank you all for your input and suggestions. I think for now I will still unplug my microwave and wash machine since I can go days without using them. I did pick up a coule of multi-outlet thingers for my sons t.v. systems that have no less than 4 add-ons. Hope everyone else learned at least one new thing from all the comments. Have a great day, everyone!

  • Cheryl
    on Jul 29, 2012

    I'd go for the power down strips. You have to think in years of use and power reduction terms. Waiting for the new and better LED lights to get cheaper. Please remember CFL bulbs contain a bit of MERCURY and need special disposal! Never handle a broken one with bare hands or vacummn. Mercury poisons are absorbed through the skin and even tiny amounts can cause illness, retardation, death! Burnt out bulbs need to go to special waste disposal!!!! Remember that BILLIONS of these mean a serious problem for the future! ALSO, outlets and electrical wiring do wear out!

  • Susan
    on Jul 30, 2012

    The big home improvement stores will take your old CFL's and dispose of them.

  • Pamela P
    on Jul 30, 2012

    When I replace a cfl I write the date I installed it on the base in Sharpie. They never last anywhere near as long as claimed.

  • Dee W
    on Jul 30, 2012

    Good idea Pamela!

  • LandlightS
    on Jul 30, 2012

    You have to read the fine print. All lamps, including the CFLs, have hours rated based on a single on/off operation of 3 hours per day. What they don't tell you is that the conditions that the lamps are rated in are constant. No temperature changes, constant humidity and no vibrations of any kind. Pure American Marketing,,,,,,,,,, Gary

  • Dee W
    on Jul 30, 2012

    @Gary-not a fan of fine print? haha I didn't know that, although it would seem only fair that a "standard" should be used to measure or rate anything we purchase. So I guess they figure 3 hours a day is average usage? That seems about right for most homes, would be too high for mine.

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Jul 31, 2012

    with an incandescent bulb the cycling on and off is what wears them out... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centennial_Light

  • Dee W
    on Jul 31, 2012

    @KMS- Interesting and thank you for the link. Now I have somthing to read by sunlight while I eat my lunch. I believe it was Mythbusters I was watching and they dispelled the myth that it takes more energy to turn a light off and on than it does to simply leave it on. Meaning that, again, according to Mythbusters- when you are leaving a room, if you will be gone longer than 3 sec.(who isn't?) shut off the light. You will actually waste more electricity by leaving it on. Both truths(?)seem to defeat each other.

  • There are many methods of saving energy. This link http://www.theenergydetective.com/ that shows a device called TED is just one of the many. Of course choosing LED or CFL are great ideas, but just putting lights on timers, Installing motion detectors on wall switch locations can help save a few dollars over time. Your best method of saving is to get a energy audit performed by a BPI certified pro. He or she can outline where your wasting money and what you can do on your own to save it. But unplugging does save a few pennies. Better yet, get a switched outlet box. Many are used on computers. End of day, flip switch and all the internal power will be turned off. You can purchase things such as TED at your local Home center. I have seen them there at mine many times in the past. They may not have the same name, but the function telling you about the power changes is.

  • Dee W
    on Jul 31, 2012

    Thanks Woodbridge...didn't realize there were so many options and gadgets out there.

  • William S
    on Aug 7, 2012

    I just want to reinforce the commentary about that 'Kill-a-Watt' meter, great device. In the Philly area, power costs about 15¢/kWh, so each one-watt draw runs about 10¢/month. Is it worth unplugging something with a clock using about a watt or so? Personally I'd say NO. You'll find the biggest power pigs are cable boxes, those things suck full power whether on or off, maybe like 35 watts or more. Say you have 4 of them, you're talking $15/mo! Unfortunately, unplugging them may cause things like the channel guide to take a long time to reinitialize. Don't forget your internet/wi-fi router -- it may be inconvenient to turn that off if you have multiple people sharing it in your house, but if you're the only user, put that on a power strip with some of your other computer devices. A quick 'n dirty guide to whether something is using significant power, feel it. If it's fairly warm to the touch when off, it's wasting power. If it is cool or cold, don't sweat it.

  • 3po3
    on Aug 7, 2012

    I like the hot and cold rule. That would be a pretty good guide.

  • Dee W
    on Aug 7, 2012

    @william-that is valuable info, thanks! As to the "warm" guide-that would be at the outlet, or the appliance itself? This really started because I realzed how many plug-in lights I have that we do not use except when we have company and wondered if I should unplug them between uses. Then I thought about the washer, which I use twice a week and that led to other things. I already used power strips where I could and after awhile wondered if I was getting manic about the whole thing. I have gleaned a great deal of information and have enjoyed reading all the posts.

  • Bit more. Your TV when turned on runs around 65 watts. Off most are around 55 watts. So think of every TV being a 50 watt light bulb staying on even with it off. How many TV's do you have? Makes you think a bit. It all adds up over time.

  • Dee W
    on Aug 7, 2012

    @Woodbridge-yeah, I've considered that -when we had cable I could unplug the tv but now that we have sat. even just shutting off the power strip causes it to need re-booting. If I put it on a timer would that be effective at all? It really is only on for a few hours in the evening-seems a shame to keep it plugged in. It can't hurt the tv at all or affect the sat. service by re-booting everyday can it? I could program it to turn on and off each day. I'm going to have to find out more about this now-thanks for another idea/solution.

  • If you have regular viewing times. Sure you could put a timer on the dish and TV system that would turn on the dish system about 20 min or so before you normally turn on the TV. That would give it enough time to boot back up and reset the schedule on the SAT. I have direct TV so I understand what your thinking about. But the TV is independent of the sat system so that can be completely turned off until it was time to watch.

  • Dee W
    on Aug 8, 2012

    @Woodbridge- I also have DishNetwork, I think I will try one of the timers we use when on vacation and see how that works out. Thank-you once again.

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Aug 8, 2012

    Dee...you could go the more extreme route and just ditch your TV all together....(or at least the satellite service) we did that over 18 months ago. The $60 a month for 3 hours or so of viewing each week was just not worth it. We still have the big flat screen TV that we use for an occasional DVD or movie streamed via Netflix. Instead of satellite we picked up a Roku box that will feed our wifi internet (netflix, hulu etc) to the TV. The box cost about 80 bucks for the HD version but there is no monthly connect...it piggy backs off our regular DSL internet. ( which we need for work , email etc) losing the $60 a month make up for a few pennies to run the roku.

  • Dee W
    on Aug 8, 2012

    @KMS-actually we just started the whole television thing earlier this year. I didn't grow up with tv but my Dear Hubs did. We made an agreement 31 years ago when we married "no t.v. until the children were grown" because I wanted them to have the advantage of no tv. Well, the baby is 22 and all 7 are on their own so in keeping with my end of the deal Dear Hubs bought a newer tv, signed a 2yr. contract for hundreds of channels and already says there is nothing to watch. We will be getting rid of it once the contract is up-total waste of $$, time and brain cells...IMO

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Aug 9, 2012

    You can ditch it now and file suit to avoid the "early disconnect" I did...direct Tv wanted to hit me with hundreds of dollars in early termination fees...once I fought back they paid up...most do not fight back. Direct TV has been sued in multiple states for all kinds of shady business practices and has paid out over 13 million in damages.... I do not think I'll ever pay for TV again...the commercial are what kills us.When we have streamed some 60 minute shows...the actual show is only 41 or 42 minutes...which means nearly 20 minutes of doppy ads trying to sell us crap we do not want or need.

  • Dee W
    on Aug 9, 2012

    @KMS-will make Dear Hubs aware of this possibility, thank-you for sharing and I am glad it worked out for you.

  • Bernice H
    on Aug 20, 2012

    @KMS..Kevin, what do you mean " to file suit"? Actually get an atty? What process did you go through?

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Aug 21, 2012

    Perhaps suit was the wrong response...I sent a detailed written letter that addressed their own policy for disputes. When I pointed out that the mediation cost + expenses ( which they claim to cover) would exceed what was due to me they paid up. I also mentioned the multi-state class action suits that they have already lost and paid 13 million on

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