Switch off and save on phantom power during the holidays

The holiday period is not often seen as an opportunity to save money. Customarily it’s a time of handing over your hard-earned cash for experiences that the standard workweek doesn’t allow for. Whether it’s travel, food, theme parks, hotels, skydiving or beachcombing it usually involves spending rather than saving. However, we have some great tips on saving at home while you are away having fun.

Understanding Phantom Power

No, we’re not talking about how the big man in the slim-fitting purple jumpsuit manages to be so strong and agile. Phantom power is another term for standby power, the electricity an appliance uses when it’s not doing what it does. Washing clothes, drying, making coffee or waking you up, etc.

Standby power use

Statistics show that a massive 10% of your power bill may be from standby power use. That means you could be spending hundreds each year on appliances that are just sitting around the house waiting for you to use them. This figure has doubled in the last 19 years (5% in 1996) and looks set to keep on rising as the number of appliances we have in our homes seems to increase each time we go shopping.

Stop for a moment take a quick count of the appliances in your home today. Just the kitchen and lounge room alone can clock up some surprising numbers.

Kitchen – oven, stove, microwave, dishwasher, kettle, toaster, fridge/freezer, rangehood, and that’s just the basics. If you start to get a bit more involved – juicer, coffee machine, blender, electric can opener, garbage disposal unit, electric baby bottle steriliser, wine or drinks fridge, food processor, slow cooker, bread maker, the list is almost endless. Potential kitchen count – 18 appliances

Lounge room – TV, lamp, air conditioner, mobile phone charger, DVD player. Now we’ll get more realistic and move away from thinking about Nana’s lounge room – PVR, home theatre speaker set, stereo, projector, amp, phone dock, digital radio, robot vacuum, laptop charger, tablet charger, gaming console. Potential lounge count – 17 appliances

That’s 35 appliances across only two rooms. According to a survey in the US, the average is 40 appliances per home drawing phantom power 24/7. If it’s got a digital display, blinking light or clock it’s drawing power, there many others which are not lit up at all but still use standby power.

Hungry, hungry hippo’s

The most standby power-hungry appliances tend to be the ones with a remote – the television, DVD, PVR, garage door, air conditioner etc. Then comes the chargers for things like your phone, tablet and laptop, then the printer, modem, alarm clock, microwave and oven. Even if each appliance only uses a small amount of power over the time you are away on holidays it can all add up.

Older and faulty appliances can suffer from the inefficient operation. It pays to attend to appliance repairs promptly as small faults to appliances such as a broken oven thermostat or door seal can increase the cost of running the oven quite a bit.

What can you do besides shutting off the power to the whole house?

The short answer is lots.

  • turn the fridge up a few degrees – if you’ve cleared all the perishable items and are just left with the jars you want to keep away from the ants the fridge can have a break and not work so hard while you are away.
  • switch off and unplug
    • TV
    • DVD
    • VCR
    • pay TV box
    • cordless phone
    • stereo, radio, game console
    • coffee machine, toaster, kettle, microwave
    • alarm clock (the neighbours don’t want to listen to your alarm all holidays)
    • washing machine, dryer
  • unplug chargers, printer, modem, computers
  • switch off the garage door opener and the air conditioner

Don’t let your vacation cost more than it needs to, switch off what you can and save at home.

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