This was an article Rob wrote back in 2013 but didn’t publish here. Since then, there have been a few changes and some of the calculations may have changed with current NSPI electricity rates, but the essential point of his article has stayed the same.

Phantom Loads

As clearly stated by the website “A phantom load is any device that consumes electricity when turned off but still plugged into an outlet. These electronic devices provide the modern-day conveniences we rely on, but they also waste energy and cost money.”

Household Electronics

[image src=”” align=”left” border=”image_border” link=”” alt=”home-wireless” title=”home wireless network diagram” lightbox=”false” ]As parents of young children, we try not to “plug the kids in” too frequently to various electronic devices. Over the years we pick a few tools here and there that we think will help us moderate their exposure. (Zoodles was a favourite for a while, with unique game ideas. Our personal favourite introduces the concept of wind power to little kids: you have to push the wind onto the blades of several different turbines and keep them all going fast enough to ‘light up’ the nearby houses.)

Thinking along the lines of the various electronic devices used throughout our house inspired this article. Shortly before this article was written, our household switched telecom providers. With the relatively high monthly price tag involved in our subscription, I finally decided to analyze the unseen expense involved in our new telecom system: power consumption. I won’t use the name of the equipment provider involved but I will say that having fibre-op is quite a treat…

Our system components

There are three components involved in our system:

  1. The part I have personally dubbed ‘the translation box’. It is where the fibre optic cable enters and gets distributed throughout my house. It has several blinking lights, a battery and the need for a regular household outlet nearby (because that is how those types of things eat).
  2. The wireless router (because I am lazy and like certain conveniences).
  3. The PVR unit that translates the fibre-op language into something the ‘one-eyed storyteller’ can share with us.

Our analysis

The numbers involved did not vary much between using the system and letting it remain idle. Therefore the phantom load of the electronics measured I should also note that I used instantaneous values but cross referenced any logged data to those values over the time I measured.

Using my closely approximate measurements, data is as follows:

‘Translation Box’ (.13A, 16VA, .46pf) = *0.40kWh/day

Wireless Router (.12A, 15VA, .59pf) = *0.36kWh/day

PVR unit (.21A, 25VA, .56pf) = *0.63kWh/day

Total combined = 1.39kWh/day

@ $0.15525kWh (using a real rate, taxes in, of course) = $.216/day

x 30.416days (average month) = $6.57/month x 12months = $78.84 per year!

Huh…I guess that monthly bill just went up by another $6-7/month.

In real world math, per month that’s 3-4 beer. Or 5 Timmy’s. Or a down payment on an automated car wash.

Regardless of comparisons, it is an amount you wouldn’t put in the trash every month. As electricity rates increase it will, of course, be more… Therefore it is something to consider.

*see our previous articles on why a watt is not necessarily a watt when calculating energy consumption