Pretty much everybody understands that lowering their electric bill means using less electricity. By far the simplest way to lower your electric bill is by turning off the lights when not in the room or replacing burned-out incandescent bulbs with high-efficiency LED or CFL bulbs. Upgrading your existing fridge, stove or any other appliance to a more efficiency model will also save you money on your electric bill. Due to increased regulations of household appliance efficiencies, even the cheapest appliances are more efficient than appliances 5–10 years old and would help lower anyone’s electrical utility costs. Short of spending hundreds of dollars, what else can you do to lower your costs? The secret lies in all your electronic devices.
Phantom Electrical Use in Power Adapters
Most people don’t realize that all electrical devices actually run on Direct Current (DC) power not Alternating Current (AC) power. In order to produce the DC power much like a conventional battery from the AC household power, the power adapter relies on a transformer to reduce the outlet voltage from 120 Volts to whatever the device requires (typically 4 to 9 V for portable electronics) then passes the transformed voltage through a rectifier to convert the AC signal to DC. Each power adapters is designed to charge one of your devices (such as your phone or iPod) all have stickers on them which tells you what voltage the adapter converts your home’s AC power into (ie. 120V AC to 9V DC). Either way the voltage is unimportant just the way the transformer functions is.
A transformer transfers electrical energy from the outlet through inductively coupled conductors also referred to as the transformer coils. A transformer has both a primary and secondary coil. The primary coil is connected to the outlet whereas the secondary coil is connected to the device. The number of coil windings dictate how the transformer behaves or what the device’s coil voltage will be. In order to induce current from one coil to the other, the primary coil creates a magnetic field. This magnetic field is always present whether or not your device is charging. As a result of this magnetic field, the transformer always draws current from the outlet resulting in a small amount of electrical consumption and cost. By unplugging all your power cords and adapters after your devices finished charging will decrease phantom electrical use.
Phantom Electrical Use in Household Electronics
Household electronics work very similar to power cords. Each device has its own transformer internally mounted in the component. Stereos, DVD players, printers, etc. all contain transformers and as a result are on even while they’re off. Devices that are in standby such as your TV or monitor also draw electricity even while they’re off. Standby mode on devices implies that a small current passes through a device to allow it to be turned on by a remote. Plugging your electronics into a power adapter allows one to turn off the power strip and thus the transformer when these devices are not in use. This ensures that these devices will not be using electricity while they were off.
Turning off power strips before you leave the house can be problematic and there are products on the market to help homeowners decrease their electrical consumption due to phantom electrical use. Other devices used to control this electrical leakage are controllable outlets. You can install them in your house and are controlled by a master switch. With one simple wireless switch you can turn off outlets connected to your electronics in the home thereby decreasing the resulting phantom electrical use due to the devices’ transformers. One such company is GreenSwitch. GreenSwitch saves you money on your electrical bill and reduces your carbon footprint at the same time. Watch a Modern Marvels Clip on GreenSwitch and leakage issues in the modern home, press here. Made in USA!