A "phantom load" is any appliance or electronic gizmo that uses energy even when turned off. Some people call them "vampire appliances" or "energy vampires."
Surprise -- most American appliances use electricity even when turned off. because the "off" button doesn't really mean "off." Yes, even chargers for cell phones and MP3 players siphon energy when plugged in - even if they're not charging a thing!Read about phantom load, stand-by power or vampire load