Phantom power is when appliances and electronics continue to draw power even when they are turned off, but still plugged into a power outlet. According to BC Hydro, this adds up to about 10% of an average BC household’s annual electricity. This does not include appliances that need constant power such as the fridge, freezer, furnace or AC. In most households, this can add up to hundreds of dollars of wasted electricity over the course of a year.
The following are some of the biggest consumers of phantom power:
Devices with remote controls – TV, PVR, Blu-ray/DVD player & garage door opener
External power supply for a router, printer or cable modem
Chargers for a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, GPS & handheld gaming device
Anything with a continuous display – alarm clock, oven, microwave, toaster oven, coffeemaker with a digital clock, cordless phones connected to base, digital thermostats
Electronic components such as computers in sleep mode, not fully turned off, electrical toothbrush on charger
*Many PVR/DVRs use almost as much power when turned off or in standby mode as when they are used with the TV on.
How to Reduce Phantom Power
Although there may be benefits to keeping some electronic components on sleep or standby mode, there are ways to reduce phantom power:
unplug appliances & electronics that are not used very often
chargers and charging stations should be unplugged as soon as the battery is fully charged
use a power bar with an on/off switch or a timer
when purchasing appliances & electronics, look for the Energy Star label
use sleep mode on your computer instead of using a screen saver which uses twice as much energy.
BC Hydro reports that the average Canadian home has 25 or more devices that use standby power.
To power home electronics in average home: 1970’s – 290 kilowatt hours per year. 1990’s – 485 kwh per year. 2013 – 960 kwh per year. 2020 – Estimated 1500 kwh per year, based on this trend.
Over time homeowners accumulate more sophisticated electronic devices and consumption of phantom power increases.
Homeowners need to weigh the difference between what is practical and realistic versus what is wasteful and costing them unnecessary expense.
Now that fall has arrived and the weather is getting colder, homeowners have turned off circulating fans and AC units and may be looking for supplementary electric heating options. When your home’s primary heating source is not adequate, or you are looking for additional heat in a specific area, supplementary electric heat may be the answer. Remember to ensure safe clearances of at least 3 feet from flammable materials such as curtains and bedding whenever using any kind of supplementary electric heating appliances.
Options for Supplementary Electric Heating
Baseboard Heaters – Heats only the room you need according to its own thermostat. Requires a dedicated, properly sized circuit. Should be installed by a certified licensed electrician. They are a good source of heat for a single room and a great way to supplement your heat.
Portable Heaters – Works as a supplementary heat source for a small area. Must be plugged directly into the outlet, never use an extension cord or power bar as this may cause overheating. Make sure you don’t plug any other electrical device into the same outlet. A 1500-watt heater should be on a dedicated circuit, this will prevent the overloading of circuits. Portable heaters should always be placed on a level, flat surface to prevent tipping. Never leave supplementary electric heating appliances unattended.
Electric Fireplace – Heats a small room. Must be plugged directly into the outlet, never use an extension cord or power bar. Should be on a dedicated circuit. There are many different designs, free standing or attach to the wall, and sizes available. Creates ambiance. An electric fireplace can be placed almost anywhere along a wall. A good way to supplement your heat in a smaller space.
Best Way to Reduce the Cost of Supplementary Electric Heating
Turning down the thermostat during the day when you aren’t home as well as at night will help reduce energy costs. There is no point in heating an unoccupied house or heating the whole house at night when you are under warm covers. Using programmable thermostats allow you to set temperatures at preset times. BC Hydro claims that lowering your thermostat by 2 degrees will save you 5% on your heating bill. Lowering it 5 degrees could save 10%. For other ways to reduce your electric bill, click here.
Contact Blue Crest Electric and one of our technicians would be happy to install a programmable thermostat to help with heating your home.
With summer in full swing, some homeowners may be noticing higher electrical bills. When the weather gets warmer, air conditioners or fans are used to keep homes cooler. Having a summer electrical maintenance routine will help to beat the heat and keep your electrical costs down.
The following is a checklist of some summer electrical maintenance tasks that every homeowner should know.
Summer Electrical Maintenance Items To Help Save Energy
Use your barbecue to avoid using heat generating appliances inside
Use a microwave to cook to avoid generating heat and use less wattage
Air dry laundry to avoid using the dryer as much as possible
Have your AC system checked to ensure it is working efficiently
Use ceiling fans on slow speed to keep air circulating and add a slight breeze
Have an electrician inspect and tighten all major electrical connections
Install programmable thermostats which control temperature more accurately than older technology.
Upgrade your lighting to energy efficient LED
Turn off the lights when you leave a room
If possible, unplug appliances, devices and chargers when they are not in use. Even when turned off, some devices will still draw power
Change your furnace/air conditioning filter every three months. Dust and dirt on the filter will slow the airflow and make the unit work harder
Keep curtains and blinds closed during the hot days to help keep the heat out
Other Summer Electrical Maintenance
Test all smoke/CO alarms monthly. Replace back-up batteries if required
Make sure all outdoor outlets are GFCI protected and have weather-proof covers. For more information on GFCI protection, click here
Check all power tool cords for damage before use
Use extension cords rated for outdoor use and properly sized for the task. Check the cords for frays or plug damage. A damaged cord should never be used
Our electricians would be happy to assist you with all your summer electrical maintenance repairs. Regular maintenance of your electrical system may identify minor concerns before they become expensive repairs.
Christmas light safety is important while decorating for the holidays. Here are some Christmas light safety tips to keep in mind when using electricity for holiday decorating.
For Christmas light safety, use only Christmas lights that are approved for use in Canada. The BC Safety Authority website has a bulletin that lists the testing and approval agencies that are accepted in BC for all electrical equipment and products. Knock-off products are making their way into some stores, so purchase carefully.
Cords may become frayed or cracked and using damaged cords is a fire hazard. For Christmas light safety, always inspect for frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Discard damaged light sets as they can cause shocks or start a fire.
Make sure to replace burned out light bulbs with the correct wattage for the light cord. Incorrect bulbs can create overheating and cause a fire.
You may have several decorations that require electricity. Be sure you are not overloading the outlets or extension cords as this may cause overheating. When using extension cords, plan the placement of the cords to avoid tripping hazards. Make sure the cords are not pinched in doors, windows or under furniture.
When decorating outdoors, make sure to use only outdoor-rated extension cords. These cords are designed for wet winter conditions. Always make sure to plug them into a GFCI-protected outlet.
Avoid the use of nails, tacks or metal staples for hanging your lights as these may cause damage to the cords. Using plastic or insulated holders will protect the cords from damage.
Connecting the cords to a digital timer would be a great way to control the lights. This way they can be programmed to turn on and off at various times during the day and week.
To save on energy consumption, consider replacing your old-style light strings with energy efficient LED lights.
Be sure to turn off all Christmas lights before leaving the home or retiring for the night.
Never pull on a string of lights as this can result in stressed or frayed wires. Always remove the strings carefully and store them loosely coiled.
Being mindful of Christmas light safety means you can have the pleasure of doing it all again next year.
Winter is on its way which means that the colder weather is just around the corner. We tend to use more electricity in the winter months to keep our homes warm and comfortable. Here are some things you can do to reduce winter energy costs.
Turning down the thermostat during the day when you aren’t home as well as at night will help reduce winter energy costs. There is no point in heating an empty house or heating the whole house at night when you are under warm covers. Using programmable thermostats allow you to set temperatures at pre-set times. BC Hydro claims that lowering your thermostat by 2 degrees will save you 5% on your heating bill. Lowering it 5 degrees could save 10%.
Only heat the rooms you use by closing the vents in the rooms that are not in use. Rooms, such as a guest room, which may be rarely used may not need constant heat.
We often get sunny days during the winter months, so opening the blinds during the day when the sun is shining allows the heat in. Closing the blinds when the sun goes down acts to insulate the room and keeps the heat from escaping.
Instead of turning up the heat, put on a cozy sweater, warm socks and keep throw blankets on your couch for easy access and comfort. Keeping the temperature a few degrees cooler will help reduce winter energy costs.
Use weather-stripping or caulking to seal air leaks around doors and windows. Cracks or gaps allow the heat to escape and the cold air to come into your home. This will help reduce winter energy costs.
Turn off un-necessary lighting. A motion sensor switch could be a good option to avoid forgetting to turn the lights off in closets and pantries.
Changing the direction of your ceiling fan to clockwise will force the warmer air at the ceiling down to where you can benefit from it, rather than turning up the thermostat.
90% of power used to energize an incandescent light bulb is wasted in the heat it produces. That means that only 10% of the power is used to produce light. Replacing incandescent bulbs with the correct LED bulbs will make a difference on your electrical bill.
Even choosing to implement a few of the above points will help reduce winter energy costs and provide savings on your utility bill.