Q I’ve read about phantom loads – how they waste energy and increase your electric bill. How much of a difference will it really make if I cut out some of the phantom loads at home?

A Phantom loads waste electricity by allowing electronic devices to consume power in “dormant” or standby mode. This unnecessary electricity use accounts for 5% – 10% of total U.S. residential energy consumption every year. Eliminating these loads would enable us to shut down 17 power plants. On a more personal level, just by REALLY turning off your flat screen TV, cable box and speakers, you could save over $100 every year. This is easy to do if you plug these related devices into a single “smart” power strip and turn the power strip off when you’re not watching TV. Other related devices to control (and turn off) using a power strip include cell phone and tablet chargers, computers, printers and scanners.