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City of Alexandria, VA City of Alexandria, VA
Green Building Resource Center
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Page updated Jul 27, 2012 9:47 AM

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The Cold Hard Facts: Chargers Waste Energy

charger imageDid you ever notice that the plug for your cell-phone charger is warm?  That is because it is drawing electricity, even when it’s not charging your phone.  This is known as “Phantom Energy” and by unplugging unused electronics and charging devices, you can save a lot of energy. The same holds true for your laptop, cordless phones, digital cameras, mp3 players, and even power tools.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t have a choice. If constantly reaching under the desk to disconnect your chargers is an unappealing option, plug your electronics into a power strip and place it on TOP of your desk. That way, it takes only one easy push of a button and everything turns off. Many surge protectors come with a few “always-on” outlets for electronics such as clocks or fax machines, as well as “auto-off” options for devices that can be turned off outside of office hours.

Don’t want all those wires getting tangled, cluttering you space, and looking messy? Consider purchasing a charging station with a power strip or a cord organizer like the flame resistant Kangaroom Black Box.

For laptop charging stations, or other electronics that charge overnight, consider a surge protector with a timer. If plugged into a traditional wall outlet, these electronics will continue to draw phantom energy even after they are fully charged. Surge protectors with timers turn off the power supply after a specified time. They can be purchased for as little as $18 and predict an estimated savings of $30 per year.

Phantom energy (also known as phantom load, idle current and vampire power) can account for about 10 percent of your home's electricity use and can be a considerable draw at work too. Take the power into your own hands and flip the switch.

Quick Facts

Energy Vampires silently suck away more than $5.8 billion of extra energy annually.
This wasted energy sends more than 87 billion pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

Green Building Resource Center
301 King St., Room 4100
Alexandria, Va 22314
Fax: 703.519.3356

Office Hours:
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.