Vampires and Phantoms, oh my!

Yes Halloween is just around the corner, but we’re not talking about those types of vampires or phantoms. What we ARE talking about can be just as frightening — vampire or phantom loads refer to the appliances and electronics that draw electricity from your outlets even when they are turned off. The constant sucking of electricity these products produce not only are a drain on your electrical system but they are killer to your electric bill. So what can we  do to protect ourselves against these types of loads, become more energy efficient and save money on our electric bills? The answer is not garlic, a wooden stake, or even going around and unplugging every device. So what IS the solution? An advanced Power Strip (APS) is a power strip with an energy saving feature. When you turn off your TV or computer, it automatically cuts power to the other devices plugged into it, such as a DVD player, game console, printer, speakers, etc. According to the Energy Information Administration’s 2008 Energy Outlook, plug loads make up one of the largest and fastest growing end-uses of the residential and commercial sectors. NEEP is collaborating with a number of organizations to choose baseline technologies and develop test standards for various types of APS that will be recommended for ENERGY STAR® adoption, allowing APS to replace standard power strips and surge protectors that are found in homes and businesses across the country. This broad group of  stakeholders is working together to ensure that only quality APS products meet the stringent criteria which ultimately allows for easy setup and smooth operation of all your electronic devices with a minimal change to how consumers interact with their devices. While NEEP has been able to produce deemed savings for these baseline APS products that efficiency programs throughout the US can use, it is now working on more advanced technologies that could save even more. Testing abroad of this technology has claimed annual savings of 350 kWh on an average TV/entertainment center setup as opposed to the 86 kWh collected by the working group’s findings for the baseline products. However, pilot programs aimed at collecting data and understanding user interaction of these advanced technologies are still needed in the US and Canada. So don’t be spooked about vampire, phantom and wasted energy through plug loads anymore, especially since there are quality APS products available now with more promising technologies on the way. There are also incentive programs available through Mass SaveNHSaves and Efficiency Vermont that can help you identify which products qualify for rebates or discounts. For more information about APS and the work that NEEP is doing, please contact

Stay informed

Stay up to date with the latest NEEP and industry news, policies, and trends to your inbox every so often.