Bust Phantom Loads with Wattmeters

Find out how much electricity your appliances use.

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Austin Energy

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721 Barton Springs Road

Austin, TX 78704

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Bust Phantom Loads with Wattmeters

Appliances and devices, when plugged in and not in use, still use electricity. Wattmeters help identify where you're using the most and where you can save.

What’s a Wattmeter?

Wattmeters are devices that read the amount of electricity used by typical household appliances. They can be plugged into any standard 110 volt electric outlet.

To find out how much electricity your appliance uses, simply:

  • Plug it into the wattmeter
  • Scroll through the hour, day, week, month, and year to find out how much each appliance or device costs to run.

Austin Energy provides wattmeters to all City of Austin public libraries for loan to Austin residents.

These wattmeters have been pre-programmed with the average year-round cost of electricity provided by Austin Energy.

Save Energy, Save Money

With a wattmeter, you can find out which appliances use the most electricity and adjust how you use them.

To save more money, you could invest in more energy-efficient appliances, such as ENERGY STAR® models. You can also take steps to use appliances more carefully, and reduce energy waste by reducing phantom load.

What is Phantom Load?

Phantom loads are caused by appliances and electronic devices that draw power while they are switched off or when they are in standby mode.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 10% of the average household’s electricity use is wasted by phantom load.

Test for Phantom Load

The typical home has more than 40 devices that draw phantom load. You can test your home for phantom load in these areas of your home:

  • Entertainment centers
  • Home offices
  • Bathroom vanity areas
  • Garages where cordless tools are charging
  • Kitchens

Common sources of phantom load include:

  • Battery and phone chargers
  • Laptops and computers
  • Digital displays
  • Any device with AC to DC converters 
  • LED status lights
  • Digital clocks

Reduce Electric Waste

Once you locate your sources of phantom load, you can take these steps to reduce your energy use.

  • Use power strips and surge protectors.
    Plug devices such as TVs, VCRs, DVD players, stereo systems, computers and gaming systems into power strips and switch them off when not in use.
  • Use smart strips for some devices.
    A smart strip will power down any related devices once you turn one of them off. These strips also include “always on” outlets for devices that you do not want to turn off.
  • Unplug chargers.
    Unplug chargers from the wall once the charging is complete.
  • Use timers on surge protectors and other devices.
    A timer is a good idea when you use an appliance on a regular schedule. This is especially helpful when outlets and surge protectors are located in hard to reach areas.
  • Use the other “off” switch.
    Many devices have an off switch in the back. For example, many computers come with a soft power switch in the front, which takes it from standby to on. Separately, another power switch (the real one) is located in the back, near the power cord.

Looking for More Ways to Save on Your Energy Bills?

You can take advantage of valuable rebates and other incentives when you make energy-efficiency improvements to your home. Browse these offers to learn more about additional savings:

Call 512-482-5346 for information about these and other offers.

Questions?

Austin Energy

Customer Energy Solutions

721 Barton Springs Road

Austin, TX 78704

email icon   Customer Energy Solutions

phone icon   512-482-5346

Last Updated: 2/27/17
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