Standby power accounts for 5% of total household electricity use
Our homes are full of appliances that consume electricity even when we are not using them. Many households have multiple home electronics such as TV's, DVD players, VCRs, and audio equipment, as well as home office equipment such as computers, printers and scanners, which are on stand-by for most of the time. That is a lot of wasted energy!
What is stand-by?
Stand-by power is the energy used by an electronic appliance while it is plugged in but not being used. Appliances in stand-by mode continue to draw a small amount of power. When an appliance is on
stand-by it generally displays a light. Stand-by also includes microwave ovens and radio alarm clocks which display the time.
Some household appliances can be turned off and on using a remote control. These appliances are not really turned off; rather they are put into a kind of hibernation. However, the problem is that while they are sleeping, they still use power. Although it is only a small amount of power, when you multiply it by the millions of appliances that sit snoozing, it adds up.
EECA (Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority) estimates that in New Zealand stand-by can account for 5% of the total household electricity use, costing this country approximately $100 million every year. There are a range of appliances in the average household that use stand-by, here are some examples:
- Electric toothbrushes
- Garage door openers
- Computer screens
EECA say that televisions, radios, videos, DVD players, games consoles and Sky decoders account for 61% of stand-by energy use in the home.
Take a look at the savings the average household could make by switching off stand-by appliances, at the wall. Please note that not all appliances should be turned off. Some appliances such as types of VCRs use stand-by power to keep condensation out of the head or electronics. The life of some appliances may be compromised if turned of at the wall regularly, hence one of the reasons for the stand-by mode. Refer to the manufacturer's manual to ensure it will not cause problems. This is also something to consider when purchasing new appliances.
The following estimates are based on an average 24 hour rate of 32 cents per kilowatt hour (these figures only apply to the savings you can make in relation to stand-by):
- By turning your microwave or stove clock off at the wall you will save up to $6 a year or 50cents a month.
- By turning your TV off at the wall while not using it you can save up to $22 a year or approximately $2 a month.
- A radio-clock will cost up to $10 a year to run so if it is not a necessity - turn it off.
- A computer will use 138watts in stand-by mode. By turning it off at the wall for 20 hours a day (the average amount of time it would normally be on stand-by) you can save approximately 88 cents a day, which is around $26 a month.
In short - if it is not going to inconvenience you, turn it off.
Every kilowatt not used results in a smaller energy bill. Even if the savings are small every bit helps. Not only are you contributing to the preservation of our environment but to the future supply of energy. By following these tips, you will be surprised at how much you could save.
Browse more articles by category:
Here you will find checklists you can print and do an energy efficiency check of your home or farm.
Being better informed about everyday running costs enables us to make better decision about consciously saving energy and money.
As consumers of electricity, we are responsible for maintaining service lines feeding power into our homes and ensuring trees don't come into contact with powerlines, causing a power cut.