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Over the next couple of days, I’m going to be looking at a few easy ways for homeowners to make their dwellings more energy efficient with the aim to save money. Overall, I’ve found that the quickest and easiest way to accomplish home efficiency is to merely brush up on a little home energy use knowledge.

For example, did you know that the average household has 20 phantom loads? A phantom load refers to the power consumed by devices when they are switched off or in standby mode. In a snowstorm, the individual snowflakes are insignificant, but for anyone who has ever shoveled snow, you know that when combined they can weigh a ton. Phantom loads are the same. Alone they don’t consume very much energy (an average of 3-20 watts), but when added together, they can cost a household an additional $200 a year. Sally Deneen from The Daily Green writes, “Here are some clues to identify your energy suckers: They’re appliances with remote controls, such as TVs, VCRs and audio equipment. They feature a continuous digital display — like those glowing clocks on stoves. They feature rechargeable batteries, such as cordless phones (which use energy even after the battery is charged). And they’re appliances with external power supplies, such as inkjet printers and iPod chargers.”

All of this talk of phantoms and the damage they do is pretty scary, but thankfully we don’t need the Ghostbusters to take care of them. There are a couple of really easy ways to beat these power guzzlers. The first, and most certainly the easiest way to deal with phantom loads is to simply unplug the device when you aren’t using it. Similarly, if you plug everything into a power strip, you turn can them all off at once. What could be easier?

The next time you need a little motivation to bend over and unplug your cell phone charger, just think what you would do with an extra $200 is your pocket?

Posted by Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy co-founded Sungevity and now serves as strategic advisor. He is an internationally recognized opinion leader on climate and energy issues. He is the author of Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy - and Planet - from Dirty Energy (2012), a book that has been described as the clean energy manifesto for the next greatest generation.