The Future for Phantom Energy

Posted By: David Kluvers

    On the February 16, 2009 edition of NPR’s All Things Considered Phantom Energy was discussed briefly. They referred to it as Vampire Power, something that was seemingly considered amusing by the host. Over the course of the 4-minute interview they primarily discuss the repercussions of digital picture frames. These are the small flat screens that are surrounded by a picture frame. A memory card is loaded with digital picture files and put into the frame, which then cycles through them and displays them on the screen. What was discussed is how much higher the lifetime footprint of one of these displays is compared to actually printing a picture, which has a onetime cost. A digital picture frame will commonly be plugged in and left turned on for the life of the device twenty-four hours a day. It is this kind of reckless power consumption that needs to be rethought and improved. This type of device is not going to go away so we need to find better ways to operate them. A great example of this was mentioned in the interview is the Alliance for Universal Power Supply, which was also found to be a very funny title by the host. This Alliance aims to establish standards of how devices will interact with their power supply and to promote the applicable industries to accept these standards. It seems to be similar to the Energy Star idea; if a device complies it receives a certification. Another company mention is Green Plug which has developed power plug technology that can provide power to a variety of devices while eliminating wasted energy. If Green Plug type technology were integrated into homes and the power grid we could potentially eliminate, or at least dramatically reduce, Phantom Energy. As these two companies show, there are people working towards the goals behind the Phantom Energy blog and this class.