When I was living in Japan, I noticed that everyone unplugged their TVs and other appliances before going to bed at night or leaving the house. When I asked why, the answer was, "ghost energy." How perplexing, I thought. Did they really think ghosts were going to turn on their radios and TVs when we weren't looking? Back in the states I did a little more research and came across the term “phantom energy.” Most people don't realize that electricity continues to be pulled from outlets even when an appliance is turned off. The energy being extracted is about 5% of your bill every month, and of course, this adds up. Unplugging all your electrical appliances before leaving the house may be a little much, but you should at least unplug a portion of them. Computer monitors, TVs, and DVD players may waste the most electricity since we use these appliances most often. Next time you purchase new appliances, make sure they're ENERGY STAR qualified. Also, try plugging your media devices into a surge protector. With the flip of a switch, you'll be able to control phantom energy usage easily. According to studies performed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, taking such actions may reduce phantom energy usage by 30%. This is one of the simplest steps you can take to save money—and if we all do it, we'll also help our environment!

This is a guest post by Evelyn from Boise, ID