Beware of Phantom Load this Halloween!

Did you know many electronics draw power even when they aren’t in use? The electricity used when these devices are in standby mode is often referred to as phantom load. Don’t let it catch you off-guard this Halloween!  Here are some examples:

  • DVR: DVRs use 29 watts while actively recording but between 36 and 38 watts when set to idle—the same amount of energy it takes to power four 800-lumen LED bulbs.
  • Personal Computer: The average desktop computer uses about 74 watts while in idle mode. Beware—screen savers can consume as much energy as active computer use.
  • Video Game Console: Game systems use nearly as much energy in idle mode (23 watts) as they do in active play mode (27 watts). It’s a good idea to turn them off when you’re not playing.

What can you do to reduce phantom load? Here are some strategies:

  • Unplug devices that aren’t frequently used.
  • Use a smart power strip to control groups of computer or video equipment.
  • Buy ENERGY STAR® products, which have lower standby usage.
  • Borrow a Kill A Watt™ meter from your local library and measure the standby use of devices in your home. You may be surprised at the phantoms living under your own roof!

Media note: Additional spooky graphics are available for use with this story.

 *Standby Power stats and info courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (

Stephanie McCurdy
Communications Specialist