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Did You Know? If every family in the U.S. had just one digital picture frame in their home, we would need five new 250 megawatt power plants to keep up with the demand for electricity.
Have you ever wondered why the time still shows on your microwave, even when nothing is cooking? It's actually still on, in what is called standby mode. And it's using electricity around the clock.
Many of your appliances and electronics have a standby mode and draw electricity 24 hours a day, even after you turn them off. This phantom energy loss can account for five to 10 percent of your energy bill each month.
So what can you do to help reduce this wasted energy? First remember that the more devices you plug into your outlets, the more energy you'll use. When you're out shopping for a new appliance or electronic don't forget to factor in its energy use and try to choose the model that uses the least amount of electricity. ENERGY STAR® models are often a great buy because they use 50 percent less standby power.
For those devices you've already purchased, there's another simple solution – unplug what you're not using. It's easy to unplug toasters, coffee makers, and cell phone chargers when they're not in use. By doing so, you'll stop phantom energy loss in its tracks.
But we all know it doesn't make sense to unplug every appliance or electronic item. A smart or switchable power strip can be used for computers and home entertainment centers since these systems often have multiple electronics and might need to stay powered on to maintain settings. These smart power strips detect when you are not using your TV or computer and automatically cuts off power. They have several "always on" slots for those devices that need to stay powered on, such as a DVR or fax machine.
Some appliances and electronics use more energy in standby mode than others. Alliant Energy’s Powering Your Plug-Ins booklet tells you how much it costs each month to run many common household devices. You can also see how much it costs to run common household appliances with Alliant Energy's appliance calculator.
Learn more about phantom energy loss by watching this plug load segment from PowerHouse TV.
Print the Phantom Energy Loss flier [PDF]