A phantom load, sometimes refered to as a vampire load, is when something is drawing power it doesn't really need to be using it. It can also be something just using small amounts of power, but all of the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days year. Something drawing 1 watt an hour will draw a kilowatt hour in 1000 hours (just over 41 days). That might not seem like much but what if you have 10 phantom loads all drawing 1 watt of power all of the time? That adds up to 87 killowatts in a year! Individually that's not a lot, maybe $10 worth of electricity, but 100 or even 1000 homes were to reduce their phantom loads it really starts to add up.

What are sources of phantom loads?

Some evening, turn off all the lights in the house and look around. How much light do you see? It seems almost everthing has a clock on it anymore, lots of appliances have status lights on them. These all draw power and can be considered phantom loads. How many of these things could you do without?

How many people unplug their cell phone charger from the wall when they unplug their cell phone? The power brick stays plugged in all day, continueing to draw power which it converts into heat. Feel the power brick the next time you plug the cell phone back in, many are becoming more efficient, but it will probably still be warm. Plug the charger into a power strip that can be easily turned off when it is not in use to get rid of this phantom load.

Anything that has a remote for turning it on or off is also a phantom load. A small entertainment center can draw a watt or two while it's 'off' just waiting to be turned on. Use another power strip here to plug everything in to so the whole thing can be turned off when it is not in use. You might want to keep the VCR plugged into a powered outlet unless you don't care if the clock isn't right.

If you really want to get serious about removing phantom loads or just reducing electrical usage it would be well worth you purchasing a Kill-A-Watt to see what different applicances use. There are even power strips with a remote control available to turn them off and on remotely, but if you can position the traditional old power strip conveniently enough I think you'd be better off just using one of them.