by Sarah Kellner
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” and if you own your own business, you’ve most likely found this to be true. Whether you’re attending conferences to stay current on the latest trends in your industry, or doing something as simple as taking a business accounting course, you’ll find that expanding your knowledge base can pay off in more ways than one.
Educating yourself on the numerous ways to save energy in your home office is another activity that pays high returns, both for the planet and for your bank account. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 75 percent of the electricity consumed in your home occurs when your electronic devices are turned off.
How can that be?
The answer is phantom load. Also called “vampire load” or “standby power,” phantom load refers to the energy consumed by electronic devices-anything with a timer, clock, adapter, memory or a remote control-while they are plugged in, but not in use. As it turns out, devices like TVs (that stay on standby mode where capacitors are filled with energy ready to turn the TV on) can use nearly as much energy as being fully on.
Here are four tips for reducing phantom load and maximizing your home office’s energy efficiency right now:
1. Use Power Strips.
One easy way to disconnect multiple electronics at once is by using a power strip. Plug all of your electronics in a certain area into one power strip, turn it off when done using them, and unplug the power strip to avoid unplugging and re-plugging in multiple devices every time you finish using them.
There are even new strips on the market called ‘smart strips’ which can make this process even easier by automatically turning off all peripheral devices once the main device is turned off. As an example, a smart strip would power off for the printer, scanner, and audio equipment when the computer is turned off.
2. Identify the Main Culprits.
By using an affordable home power meter like a Kill-a-Watt, you can identify the biggest phantom load culprits in your home. Simply plug it into an outlet, plug the device into the meter, and note the readouts of your various devices for comparisons. A less technical solution for identifying the big players is to turn off all your lights at night and check for devices with glowing LED lights on them. This is usually a good signifier of devices that cause phantom load.
3. Unplug Fully Charged Devices.
How many times have you plugged your cell phone into the charger and fell asleep, leaving it to sit there, fully charged for most of the night? Probably more times than you can count. If this is your daily routine, it’s time to switch it up. Unplugging fully charged devices, like cell phones and tablets, not only eliminates their ability to consume unnecessary energy, but is also better for the device.
4. Use “Sleep” Mode on Your Computer.
Setting your computer to power saver mode, rather than just relying on the screensaver when you are away or inactive, is another way to limit phantom load. While screensavers do help prevent the screen’s image from being burned into CRT and plasma screen monitors, they do not save energy.
These are just a few of the ways to save energy and money in your home office. What are some of the ways you live green while saving green?
Sarah Kellner writes for The Home Depot on a variety of topics ranging from home office energy savings to smart home innovations. To find some of the products Sarah talks about in this article, visit the home electronics pages at homedepot.com.