Watt's Happening

Ask the Expert: Phone chargers – keep plugged in all the time or unplug?

Does it take more energy to leave a phone charger in the outlet, even when it isn’t charging?

It’s true most of us leave our cell phone charger plugged into the wall even when we’re not using it. The good news is that while the charger does use a tiny bit of power when left plugged into the outlet, it’s only about 23 cents a year for an FPL customer.

This small amount of energy use is called “phantom energy.” Power adapters, like cell phone chargers, aren’t the only items that use a little bit of energy when they’re plugged in. In fact, many electronic items are in “standby” mode when turned off, helping them turn on faster or respond to a remote control. Devices with lit digital displays use power too, albeit a very small amount. You can avoid this by unplugging unused items until needed or using power strips to cut power to multiple items with one switch.

As far as cell phones are concerned, they use very little electricity even when you are actively charging them. In fact, the annual cost of charging your phone eight hours a night is just about 65 cents if the phone is off while charging or roughly $1.30 per year if it’s switched on. Not bad for a convenience most of us can’t live without.