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Endesa - Electricity, Gas, People

Phantom consumption costs you 5 euros per month

Published on April 9, 2019

Most electronic devices continue consuming energy when they are plugged in or on stand-by. This “phantom consumption” depends on many factors, but can reach 400 kWh per year and is how you throw your money away.

There are several names for it. Phantom consumption, stand-by consumption, silent waste...Whatever you want to call it, it is the electricity that you're consuming (and paying for) without needing it.

They are things that you leave turned on though you may not realise it. How is this possible? For 2 reasons:

1. The red pilot light is ON: in these cases, you know perfectly well that the device is turned on a little bit, otherwise that light (normally red) wouldn’t still be illuminated. This is the stand-by mode, designed to make life more comfortable. The clearest example is the television: instead of getting up and turning off the entire television with the manual switch, you turn it off from a distance with the remote control and allow it to remain on stand-by. What you probably don’t know is that by leaving it like that, you consume practically the same energy as if it were functioning normally.

2. The internal transformer: most devices that are plugged into an electrical current have an internal transformer that generates consumption, even when those devices are OFF. Many don’t have any pilot light that indicates they are on stand-by. They simply continue consuming while they are plugged in, without telling you in any way. The cell phone charger is the best example: you leave it plugged in without any phone connected to it, but your transformer continues to consume electricity (in fact, if you touch it, you’ll notice that it's hot).

Most devices continue consuming electricity while they are turned on, and don’t even have a pilot light that tells you they're on stand-by.

The devices that consume most on stand-by

Estimating stand-by consumption is complicated, given that it significantly depends on the model of home appliance used and its energy efficiency, but approximate measurements can be calculated.

We’re not asking you to go crazy. We’re just pointing out the devices that are consuming the most phantom consumption for you and that would be best to entirely turn off when you're not using them.

TV decoders

It is one of the elements in your home that consume most on stand-by, particularly if they have a recording system with a hard drive.

They can consume between 41 and 64 kWh per year. This represents an annual cost on your bill of approximately 7 – 10 euros.

Laptops

They are one of the electronic devices that we most commonly leave plugged in. Some people leave them constantly plugged in... just in case.

A laptop that is entirely turned off, consumes around 35 kWh per year just by being plugged in, which on your bill can reach up to 6 euros.

Mini music systems

Music equipment is similar to laptops. Consumption is around 53 kWh and take around 9 euros per year out of your pocket.

Televisions

As we said above, having the television on stand-by during its entire useful life is a classic.

A 32-inch CRT monitor can spend up to 53 kWh per year on stand-by (about 9 euros), while a 37-inch LED monitor reduces this consumption to 18 kWh per year (less than 3 euros).

A 42-inch plasma television has a phantom consumption of 26 kWh per year, which on your bill translates into approximately 4.5 euros.

Keep in mind that the old rear projection monitors consume more than the current flat screens.

Microwaves

This home appliance has a phantom consumption that reaches 35 kWh per year. For that reason, you must be careful to leave it turned off when you're not using it, given that you can save up to 6 euros per year.

How much phantom consumption costs you

Estimating the cost of phantom consumption on your bill is complicated, given that the price of the kWh entirely depends on your electricity tariff, but we can calculate averages inspired by the reality of the market.

If we add it all up, just with the aforementioned devices that are present in most homes, we get a total of approximately 377 kWh. By turning them off, you can save up to 64 euros per year—more than 5 euros per month.

We could also expand the previous list to include wireless telephones (around 6 euros per year), the coffee maker (7.45 euros per year) and video game consoles (practically 6 euros per year). Interestingly, of all the things you have at home, cell phone chargers consume the least in phantom mode. Still, you should unplug them if you’re not using them, even if it’s just for the sake of safety.

Despite the rumours, cell phone chargers barely consume electricity on stand-by mode.

What to do to avoid phantom consumption

Cutting the root with stand-by consumption is tremendously simple. You just need to follow these three tips and start to think about how you're going to spend those 5 euros per month that you’ll save every month:

  • 1. Unplug the device: it’s not enough to turn it off, if it is still plugged into the grid, it can continue to consume.
  • 2. Unplug the power source: sometimes, for example with laptops, the device can be one entity and the power source another. If you unplug the laptop but leave its transformer plugged in...you haven't done anything.
  • 3. Put a power strip with a switch on your life: one or several, as many as are necessary. Instead of unplugging devices one by one, it will make it easier to disconnect them all at the same time whenever you leave the house or go to sleep.

Phantom or stand-by consumption may cost you 64 euros per year. Instead of throwing away that money, remember to unplug whatever you're not using.