Vampire Energy and The Phantom Load

In this case Knowledge Really is Power!


Vampire Energy and The Phantom Load.

(no this isn’t my latest horror film review)


It’s fair to say that over the last 15- 20 years technology has leaped forward.  TVs are now flatter than a pancake and your microwave can order beans when you run out!  Technology companies have been on a mission to make our lives simpler and if it can be automated, it has been.

All this rapid technological advancement has created a generational shift in attitudes.  As consumers we now expect things to be instantaneous, or at least extremely easy. It could be quick responses from smart devices through to wanting instant hot water. Gone are the days of plugging something in, waiting for it to start up, then use it. When was the las time you heard that family ember say Turn The Big Light Off?

Electronics companies have found creative ways to prevent us from switching devices off.  Clever marketing, with brands promoting special low power modes often marketed as ECO, have encouraged people to leave their device on standby when not in use.

Manufacturers (under instruction from the EU) even put bright coloured labels on appliances in an attempt to persuade us the consumer that what we are buying is energy efficient. In fact, manufactures have been busy redesigning goods to compete for the lowest possible energy rating. In 2006 two-thirds of refrigerators and washing machines sold were labelled as class A, compare that to 2017 when 90% of those sold in were labelled A+, A++ or A+++. For years I had an A+ rated fridge humming away in our kitchen.

But now with energy prices at all time high it may be time to look past the brightly coloured labels and ask yourself if the cost of everything instant is worth it. It may be time time to seek out those Energy Vampires, or Phantom Loads, and see if you can save a little cash off your bill.

Energy vampires otherwise known as the Phantom Load are the appliances or devices that are plugged-in, sitting quietly somewhere drawing power waiting for you to give it an instruction. Think anything on standby, your alarm clock glowing in the corner, the smart speaker that interrupts you just to let you know its on, and that charger you plugged switched on and forgot to turn off.  Yes, I have one too!

Take a look around you how many devices can you see plugged in?

Let’s look at how much Vampire Energy and the Phantom Load is costing.


You may have spotted several devices around your home that appear to be using Vampire Energy.   Let’s take a look at how much it is costing you.

Just before I get to some figures its worth understanding that Electricity is sold by the kilowatt-hour (kWh). Your electricity bill refers this as ‘units’ on your electricity bill.

Once you get your head around how much electricity your device is using its straightforward to work out how much a device is costing you to run.

The good news is you can calculate the cost of your electronic device in 3 easy steps :

1 Work out your device KWH – how much of these units it eats up.

2 Find your devices daily KWH usage  – how much energy it uses each day.

3 Convert to £s and pence – what’s the impact on your wallet?

Let’s take a typical 49 inch LED TV for example.

Step 1 Work out your device’s KWH usage

A quick Google shows that a typical 49-inch LED TV draws about 85 watts of electricity when in use. So, to work out the KWH simply divide the watts by 1000 (a Kilowatt Hour is a 1000 wats)

So, the TV is using 85 / 1000 = 0.085 KWH

Step 2 Find your device’s daily KWH usage  

So, we know the TV is using 0.085kwh per hour. Take that figure and multiply it by the amount of hours in use. In this case TVs are used for around 5 hours a day.

0.085 x 5 = 0.42

Ok so we now know the TV is using 0.42 units of electricity per day.

Step 3 convert to £s and pence

Great you’re now on the last step, to find out how much the TV is costing you, multiply the daily use by the unit cost of your electricity (found on your bill).
For this example, I will take the current UK average of 28p.

0.42 x 28 = 11.76

So, a typical 49inch TV is costs to run…

11.76 p a day

82.32 p a week

£3.57 a month

£42.90 a year

To help you understand what popular devices are costing to run and keep on standby,  I have worked out some possible costs based on popular rooms and devices around the home

Where possible I have based the figures on manufacturer data, or a best guess scenario.

For more accurate figures specific to your situation, I would suggest that you research your own devices, I have provided a link to a really useful website that will help you easily work things out using the formula mentioned above,.

Living Room Devices


Bedroom Devices


The Murky World of White Goods


Just before I look at kitchen devices, I need to stress that this is where things get the murkiest with energy usage quotations.

With most of the large white goods manufactures are hiding behind the EU energy label system. They are not providing data on Standby Energy and the usage is quoted against the lowest possible standard.

Take washing machines for example.  The label figure is based on a 60-degree cotton cycle. This is a cycle that many people no longer use. Manufactures may not necessarily ensure the other cycles are as energy efficient, and if like the rest of us you wash on 40 degrees the label figures may be useless.

The same goes for electric ovens. The energy information on most ovens relating to the average energy used per cycle. Digging round the eu website the ‘cycle’ is explained as

’The energy consumption of a cavity of a domestic oven shall be measured for one standardised cycle, in a conventional mode and in a fan-forced mode, if available, by heating a standardised load soaked with water. It shall be verified that the temperature inside the oven cavity reaches the temperature setting of the thermostat and/or the oven control display within the duration of the test cycle. The energy consumption per cycle corresponding to the best performing mode’’

So, the energy usage figure per cycle is laboratory test with seemingly no easy way to work out the full cost to the consumer, as the ‘cycle’ time is not fully explained.

For those that want to read the full legal text here is the link.

So, for the figures below I have used an average electric rating of  0.87 kWh of energy in use for 1.5 hours a day, just as a guide.

Kitchen Devices


What Can You Save?


The above information shows that some devices are burning electricity for little reason and helps you understand how much popular devices are costing to run in normal use.

The Vampire Energy being wasted may seem small change, but as you look around your home those £3.57’s start to add up.

In fact, according to an Energy Saving Trust study (‘Powering the nation’) around 9-16% of the electricity used in our homes, powers appliances in standby mode. On a bill of £500 this could account for as much as £80!

In this case Knowledge Really is Power!

Switching off and unplugging electronics when not in use is the best way to save those vital pounds, but its worth making sure that your devices can be switched off regularly. Some electronics like cookers for example may be designed to sit in standby mode, but that mobile charger is another story so switch it off when not being used !! (yes JJ you can nag me now)

Why not drop a comment below of on our socials on how much electricity you can save by switching items off?

Thanks for reading



Credits : Words Garry

Editor : JJ

Photo by Jean van der Meulen:

Photo by tamil king:

Photo by Jean van der Meulen:

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  1. You have opened my eyes we will have to consider how to use and operate how to use our energy in future switch it off and work how to manage our energy sensible and sparingly.

  2. Years ago we had gas lamps candles and Tilly lamps paraffin stoves and coal ovens .thank God we have moved on

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