Does It Cost Money To Have Something Plugged In?

A featured image with the header 'Does Leaving Plugs In Use Electricity?', an AirBeamTV logo and an image of an iPhone being charged. The charger is plugged to an extension cord and there's another cable plugged into a wall outlet

Did you know that leaving things plugged in use electricity and this does cost you money? According to the EPA, electronics account for 11% of energy use in the United States. That’s $19 billion per year used up for phantom energy! That means if you have a lot of electronics plugged in at home, you’re probably spending a lot on electricity without even realizing it.

AirBeamTV is here to help you save money and conserve energy with our simple tips for avoiding wasteful practices. Follow our advice and start saving today!

An image of a white double power socket with a hand plugging in a white cable into the bottom socket.
A hand holding a bundle of iPhone and USB-C charging cables

Phantom Energy: Myth Or Reality?

Phantom energy is a term referring to the electricity wasted by devices that are plugged in, but not used. We all have them – TVs, chargers, monitors, toasters, lamps and similar. Chargers for telephones and laptops that plug into the socket, but do not charge: do they consume electricity? And is it possible to save on that?

Next to the bed is a white cord that disappears into a white adapter, which plugs into a white socket. One of the sockets in the kitchen is also almost permanently occupied by a charger for smartphones in need. Only: those chargers just lie or hang there, while they are really working for a few hours during the day or at night at the most.

A MacBook charger and a USB-C cable on white surface

Are those chargers consuming electricity when they’re not charging devices? Does it make sense to pull the plug if you’re not using it?

Yes, say the energy experts! A charger that is not charging continuously consumes about 1 watt in the socket. “The rule of thumb used to be that a device that consumes 1 watt costs 2 euros per year in electricity. At the current rates, that will now be about 5 euros.

An adapter, a charging cube and a charging cable on white surface

How Much Energy Unused Plugged In Devices Use?

No two chargers are the same. So even with the high electricity rates, most chargers are expected to cost 2-3 euros a year if you leave them plugged in. EU law prohibits chargers that consume more than 1 watt. And for comparison: a washing machine consumes roughly 2 kilowatts when heating water, so two thousand times more than that charger. A smartphone that is charging costs between 5 and 10 watts.

That energy consumption when not in use is because the adapter converts alternating current from our socket into direct current, which our devices use. A charger simply continues to convert if it is connected to the socket but does not charge anything. That energy is lost as heat.

Energy Use Of iPhone Chargers

According to a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the average iPhone charger has a standby power consumption of 0.26 watts when not in use, but is capable of consuming up to 2.24 watts when actively charging a device. This is significantly lower than other electronic devices, such as laptops and desktop computers, which can have standby power consumption levels of up to 25 watts. However, it is important to note that the actual energy consumption of an iPhone charger will depend on a variety of factors, including the age and model of the charger, as well as the device it is being used to charge. Overall, iPhone chargers have a relatively low impact on household energy consumption compared to other electronic devices.

Several USB-C and iPhone charging cables bundled up into

Standby vs. Turned Off

What about the advice to leave televisions on standby as little as possible? And does it make sense to pull the plug completely? Many electrical appliances can no longer really be turned off with a button.

A closeup image of a white power socket with a black power cable plugged in

Do appliances use electricity when plugged in but turned off?

A lot of new TV models (like Samsung, LG or Sony) go into standby mode when you turn them off with a remote. That means they are available almost instantly at a single press of a remote control button. The same goes for many computer monitors. They don’t have to boot up everytime you want to watch some television or use your computer. But that means they consume energy.

Standby power consumption accounts for 1% of CO2 emissions and 2% of electricity usage. Seems like a tiny number, right? But considering our global energy usage has been 25,343 terawatt-hours in just 2021 (or a whopping 25,343,000,000,000 kilowatt-hours!), it’s actually quite a lot!

Various charger cubes on a table. There's a hand picking up one of the cubes and a plant on the table

What happens when you unplug the TV everyday?

What can you do instead of standby? An obvious answer would be to pull the cord straight from the socket. But by doing that, you risk damaging your cables or, if you live in colder climate, allowing TV components to shrink overtime because of temperature.

A great solution for that is getting a power extension cord. Plug your TV into one of its sockets and then simply click the switch at the end of the day when you’re done watching.

You can do the same with your chargers or any other applianced that use up power when plugged in. It’s the safest option!

Two iPhone chargers with cables attached to them. One of the cables is plugged into an iPhone


It never hurts to pull the plug, but it also applies to the television, provided it is not too old, under EU legislation, it may not consume more than one watt. It may not be all that much compared to devices that have to heat something, such as the kettle.

But cents can add up overtime. Multiple devices draining small amounts of energy can lead to you losing money in the long run. Remember – when in doubt, plug it off!

Discover More:

Cast To Sony TV From Android Phone & Tablet

How To Watch Movies From Phone To TV Without HDMI?

Connect Android Phone & Tablet To Chromecast In Record Time

What Does iOS Stand For?