Your Home Idle Load

Residential electrical device usage is at an all-time high. As a result, more homes are requiring larger circuit breaker panels to manage the consumption of power by various gadgets. While some experts insist that these devices draw energy when they're turned off, the question emerges: how much power are they using when they're off or not in use? Furthermore, is it even worth a worry?

Small, but mighty

Oddly enough, it doesn't seem like a house would have that many energy-draining objects. But take a breath before you see the average number of electrical users in an ordinary home: it's forty!

What kind of gadgets contribute to your home idle load even when they're supposedly off?

  • If you're into entertainment, it may be your television, CD player, game console, stereo, speakers, turntables, musical instruments (such as an electronic keyboard), DVD player, satellite or cable tv and the set-top box.

  • For cell phone users, it's the charging cord, and for others: the cordless phone and answering machine. These are energy 'vampires.'

  • In the kitchen, it's a microwave oven, coffeemaker, dishwasher, and stove.

  • Outdoors it might be the garage door opener, cordless power tools, low-level outdoor lighting, and security system.

  • An HVAC, window A/c or furnace also take their little nibbles.

  • Home office items include modems, laptops, scanners, printers, fax machines, and even your surge protector. If you have radios or clocks, those add a little bit, as well.

Is it time for you to get a grip on your home idle load?

Is it time for you to get a grip on your home idle load?

They aren't really off

The dilemma faced by most homeowners is they have been led to believe that if a device is off, it's not drawing energy. But a clock is so handy. Of course, we need a modem. Couldn't live without a sound system, or home office, not to mention the critical coffee maker and other kitchen gizmos. Electrical vampires are a little bit like taxes: that tiny bit of extra doesn't seem like it adds up to much. But when a homeowner calculates what is drawing when everything is off, it can run up to $150 per year. Not such a little amount anymore!

Power strips

So many of these appliances will draw without our ability to curtail it, such as garage door openers. But others, such as sound systems and office equipment, don't need to be plugged in all the time and can even benefit from being unplugged in the event of a power surge. Power strips cut off vampire appliances so they can't quietly draw and cost money. When the devices are in use, the power strip can be turned on, and then returned to the off position when they aren't in use. While this won't derail every energy vampire, it starts to add up over time. Like being able to buy items tax-free, the savings over time makes it a worthwhile endeavor.


One of the final points to remember is that surge protectors actually will protect delicate electronics in the event of a power surge. While this doesn't seem likely, the peace of mind for protecting thousands of dollars in electronics if there is a surge is very attractive. So much so that people in areas where surges frequently happen often purchase whole house surge protectors.

If you have concerns about electrical surges, excessive energy consumption, or other electrical questions, why not schedule an electrician to come to review your electrical system? We offer comprehensive home electrical services for residential and commercial customers and would love to hear from you.

Zimmerman Electric is here to serve your residential and commercial electrical needs throughout the Phoenix Valley metro area. Call us today if you need electrical work performed 602-497-3365.