Renovation & Design

Unplug appliances to avoid phantom power consumption

Question: I work long hours away from home and I always leave my coffee maker and toaster plugged into the electrical outlet. I assume that appliances are made to remain plugged in when not in use. Is this safe? — Stoddle

Answer: Some appliances need to remain plugged whether you are home or not such as the fridge, stove, washer and dryer. However, according to the Ontario Minister of Energy (, "Even when household appliances and electronics are plugged in, but turned off, they use electricity. This is called phantom power. The easiest way to stop phantom power is to simply unplug your appliances and electronics when you’re not using them. If this isn’t practical, then consider plugging appliances into a power bar or smart strip. Try to group appliances that you use together into the same power bar, like a computer and printer in your home office, a television, video player and stereo in the living room or a coffee maker and toaster in the kitchen. Make sure power bars are in spots that are easy to reach so you can turn them on and off." In other words, when possible unplug appliances such as the toaster, coffee maker when not in use. Also, ensure that no electrical unit ever sits on top of the cord. It is wise not to run the dishwasher or washer/dryer when no one is home.


Question: How can I prevent furniture from sliding on the floor so that it doesn’t leave marks on the wall when someone sits down? — James

Answer: The easiest solution is to cut a piece of non-slip shelf or drawer liner the same size as the furniture feet. For furniture that remains in place, cut the shape and simply slide the shelf liner underneath each foot. For furniture that is made to move such as kitchen table chairs you will require some kind of adhesive to hold the liner in place. Use one drop of Super Glue or wood glue depending on the furniture material. There are sticky pads available, however, that don’t always hold and often collect dust and hair. Other ideas are to install chair rails or pieces of Plexiglas onto walls so that chairs have no direct contact with the wall. You can also cut small sections of carpet tiles and apply them to the corners of chair backs using double sided tape.


Question: I love enjoying wildlife. Can you give me a few pointers on how I can attract butterflies to my garden? Thank-you, Vince

Answer: The first rule when wishing to attract butterflies to your yard is to avoid using toxic chemicals in your garden. Butterflies love colourful flowering plants. Place a shallow dish of muddy water in a sunny spot. You may find butterflies visit the mud puddle, however this is not recommended in areas where mosquito breeding is a challenge. You can also build or buy your very own butterfly house from a nature store and paint it bright colours. The house should be positioned in a woody part of your yard (not out in the open), and if butterflies decide to live in the house, they will probably not do so until fall (possible during the second season).

Where did butterflies get their name? Although no one knows for sure one legend is that butterflies were once believed to be witches in disguise. The witches stole milk and butter at night, thus giving them their unusual name.

Hint for hummingbird watchers

Every year I enjoy watching hummingbirds visit the feeder that I hang outside of my window. I notice that they often visit the plastic flower that faces away from my window, which blocks my view of them. I now put a piece of painter’s tape on that flower. They now visit the feeders that make them visible to me from my window. They are so fun to watch. — Marilyn

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Have a great suggestion or tip? Please send an email at: Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: 


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