Call For Action: ‘Phantom Power’

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
WESTLAKE, Ohio --

Every light in the house is on at Mike Della Vella’s home in Westlake.

“They’re doing a good job of abusing power,” said Della Vella, while talking about his family’s use of electricity.

What might surprise some, is what the Della Vella’s don’t have turned on that’s adding to the monthly electric bill.

The U.S. Department of Energy said 10% of the power most Americans pay for every month is what is called “Phantom Load,” or “Vampire Load.”  Some also refer to it as “Phantom Power.”

Home inspector Marko Vovk, from Ambassador Construction Consultants, used a voltage sniffer in Della Vella’s home to show how electricity is flowing through power cords that aren’t attached to electronic devices. It also proved appliances that aren’t turned on, are still using power.

Vovk held the sniffer up to a power strip and the device started beeping.

“The power is going through all these cords, and the minute I turn the power off the Phantom Power stops,” he told Call For Action Reporter Lorrie Taylor.

The Department of Energy said on its website that sleeping computer screens draw up to $28 annually--add another $28 to the bill if a printer is plugged in.

A big screen television, when turned off but still plugged in, can cost as much as $110 a year.

Vovk said when a homeowner leaves an Xbox or Wii hooked up, it’s as if they left a light burning around the clock.

“This is probably drawing 50 to 70 watts, which is about one light bulb,” said Vovk.

Della Vella said he wasn’t surprised to learn his electronics were using power while turned off.

“I was aware of it, but it just kind of hit home how much of the power was being wasted when you’re not using it," he said.

Vovk said the solution to having Phantom Power run up an electric bill is simple. Unplug what you can, and turn off any power strips.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.