‘Phantom power’ or ‘vampire power’ is the electricity used by consumer electronics and appliances while they are in standby mode. According to the Energy Saving Trust an average UK household spends £30 a year powering appliances left in standby mode. This is much less than previously, as the One Watt Initiative resulted in EU legislation requiring all electrical products sold within the EU after 2010 to have a standby power of less than 1W.
As we own more and more electronic gadgets it’s still worth being aware of their total standby energy usage. The number of TVs, digital TV recorders and set top boxes, PCs, laptops, printers, games consoles, mobile phone and battery chargers, microwave cookers, modems and routers etc we now have in our homes means it’s easy to lose track of just how many gadgets there are around the house running on standby power.
Some devices such as security systems, fire alarms, timers, clocks, digital video recorders and answering machines need a continuous power supply to operate properly. As for the rest, there’s one sure way to reduce the running costs of all these appliances – just switch them off at the plug when you’re not using them. It’s a simple, free and easy way to save some money and reduce your carbon footprint too. There is also a small risk of fire from devices in standby mode.
To make life easier there are ‘intelligent plugs’ which will switch devices off automatically. The EOn Surge Protected Energy Saver Power Down Socket w/TV Remote Sensor automatically cuts off standby consumption by slave electric devices like set-top boxes, DVD players/recorders, speakers/amplifiers etc. once the TV has been switched off. The TV remote control switches the TV off normally, then everything else connected to the slave socket will be switched off automatically 2 minutes later. The Power Down has three UK standard sockets, one for the Master (your TV), one Permanently On for devices such as Sky, and one Slave for all peripheral devices – these can be connected through a multi-socket extension lead.
The ANSMANN AES-1 Zero Watt Energy Saving Timer Plugautomatically switches off mains power to connected devices after a user defined period of time between 15 minutes and 8 hours with no standby power consumption. It can be used for appliances such as heaters, washing machines and tumble driers, and would be ideal for those devices you sometimes forget to turn off such as the iron or hair straighteners. No more sitting at work wondering if your house is burning down because you can’t remember if you turned off your straighteners!
If it’s awkward to reach the plug socket or if you have mobility problems you can use a remote control kit to control appliances, lights etc. The Mercury 350.115 10A Remote Control Mains Socket Adaptor Set comes with 5 plug adaptors which simply plug directly into the mains socket. Each will control an individual appliance or a group of appliances up to 1000W on a power strip.