Six ‘most common’ phantom appliances costing you $170 extra a year on your energy bills –

TURNING off appliances and devices that drain your energy when left on standby could save you hundreds of dollars.

Leaving common everyday items on standby such as cell phone chargers and computers can increase costs.


Phantom appliances can add hundreds of dollars to your energy bill

But you can save money by turning off these so-called phantom appliances.

Here are some that could be taking a bite out of your energy bill and how much it costs to keep them switched on.

1. CHARGERS – $20

It’s common to leave chargers – like those for your cell phone charger or an electric toothbrush – plugged in overnight.

While this won’t amount to more than a handful of dollars over a year, it could quickly start adding up to more.

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If you’re living alone and generally only charge your phone overnight, the savings on your bill will be so minimal that it may not be worthwhile to unplug your charger when it’s not in use. 

But if you have multiple devices on the hook or live with others, the costs can stack quickly while the effort it takes to pull some plugs is minimal.

Depending on how many chargers you usually have plugged in at once, you can save upwards of $20 annually by yanking a few of them when they’re not in use. 


While a TV alone only racks up about $10 worth of phantom loads per year, everything it’s connected to can add weight to your bill

If you have a cable box, you’re likely losing another $10 annually while it’s turned off, and the same goes for audio or speaker systems you may have linked to your TV. 

Gaming consoles draw power while turned off too, and can cost you a few dollars per system over a year. 

In total, you could reduce your bill by $20 to $70 by unplugging and not just clicking off your entertainment systems. 


Power strips and surge protectors can help you to eliminate multiple loads at once by flipping one switch, but they could also be adding to your bill.

A short power strip uses about $0.10 of electricity per month or $1 per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

But some of the more expensive power strips – those with motion sensors and programmable timers – are likely to cost you more.


Millions of Americans will dread waking up to the sound of their alarm clock signalling the start of the working day.

And seeing how much the device could be adding to your energy bill could make you resent it even more.

Modern alarm clocks with built in radios which are Energy Star rated use between one and two watts of power.

While some older models or models which have many extra features can use up to five watts.

If you have a two watt alarm clock plugged in 24 hour a day for a year, this will equate to around $1.75 a year.

But if you have a five watt alarm clock, this will cost around $4.38 a year.

5. COMPUTERS – $25

Like televisions, computers can be costly for two reasons. 

First, turning them off doesn’t completely kill the flow of energy, and second, the supplementary devices like monitors, modems, printers, and routers prove to be costly phantoms as well. 

However, some devices like routers should stay on even when not in use to ensure reliable connection during active hours.

It means the savings strategy isn’t as straightforward as bundling everything into one power strip and flipping the switch. 

Many experts recommend turning off your computer if you plan to be inactive for more than 20 minutes, and shutting down the computer and monitor when you’ll be away for two or more hours. 

By properly turning off your computer and monitor, and keeping your printer unplugged when not in use, you can save around $25 per year. 

6. NIGHT LIGHT – $50

While you might find it comforting to sleep with a night light, thinking about how much it’s adding to your energy bill might end up keeping you up at night.

Depending on how energy efficient your bulbs are, you could be costing yourself up to one cent for each hour you leave the lights on, per bulb. 

Now think about a room with four bulbs – if you leave those lights on while sleeping every night for a year, you’re costing yourself more than $50 annually on lights in one room that you’re not even using.

Then, consider the fact that the average American home has around 40 lightbulb sockets and you’ll see how much of a difference lights can make.

Other ways to reduce your phantom load

Apart from simply unplugging the device, there are a few other actions to take to reduce your energy bills.

  • Plug devices into a power strip, or consider installing a whole-house switch that remotely turns off controlled outlets with the single flip of a switch
  • Plug them into a timer
  • Adjust power settings on devices such as TVs, computers and game consoles
  • Purchase ENERGY STAR-labeled equipment wherever possible: they have requirements to minimize idle load (low standby power, auto power down), in addition to using lower power in active mode
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To further slash your utility bill, see if you qualify for Verizon’s free internet service initiative.

And check out this financial expert’s creative advice to save up to $75 each month on streaming subscriptions.

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