Introduce your students to phantom power

Published on: October 25, 2023

Get your classroom into the Halloween spirit with a discussion about ! Learning about energy efficiency can be an educational and engaging experience for students of all ages — especially when you tie in October’s spooky themes.

Keep reading to see how you can turn this important topic into an interactive seasonal activity.

What is phantom power?

Did you know when electronics and appliances are plugged in, they’re consuming a small amount of energy — even when they’re not in use? That wasted energy is referred to as standby power or phantom power. Some people even call it vampire power…how frighteningly festive!

Part of understanding phantom power is learning how to reduce it. Below are a few examples of how your students can prevent wasted energy use:

  • Tip 1: Don’t forget to unplug! Make sure to unplug electronics and appliances once you’re done using them. This includes chargers, computers, coffee makers, and gaming consoles.
  • Tip 2: If you use multiple chargers at a time, consider creating a “charging station” where all the chargers are plugged into the same power bar. This will allow you to easily and turn them all off at once.
  • Tip 3: Use a smart power strip, which is designed to prevent wasted energy. Smart power strips can detect when devices are in standby mode and will automatically cut power to those devices. Simply plug your TV into the main outlet and your gaming console into one of the controlled outlets. When you turn off your TV, you automatically cut power to your gaming system.

Did you know?

The average gaming system can use 90 watts of power when left idle. This can add up to an extra $70 in electricity costs every year!

Classroom activities

Take your Halloween lesson to the next level by pointing out the hidden ghosts in your classroom. Check out the suggestions below to find an age-appropriate activity for your class.

Kindergarten to Grade 5:

While this may seem like a complex topic for younger students, having visual cues and real-life examples will make it easier for them to understand. To start, you can point out objects around your classroom and ask your students if they use electricity. Once they understand where electricity is being used in the classroom, you can ask them what electronics can be unplugged to help stop phantom power. Some examples of these include projectors, computers, fans, speakers, and printers.

To make this activity even more engaging, print out little ghost figures on pieces of paper and have your students place them around the room as you point out each electronic. At the end of the activity, your class can count how many phantoms are lurking around!

Grades 6 to 9:

For older students, take the discussion one step further to identify ghouls beyond the classroom. Host a brainstorming session to come up with ways to reduce phantom power at school and at home.

Not sure how to get started? Here are some questions to help guide in-class discussions:

  • What electronics in your home can be unplugged?
  • What electronics in the classroom can be unplugged?
  • What electronics and appliances need to stay plugged in?
  • What electronics could be grouped together on a smart power bar?
  • What is the benefit of unplugging your unused electronics?

If you’d like to take your energy efficiency education to the next level, visit our resources page! You can find even more interactive activities and lesson plans for your students.