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Home efficiency: Stand-by power

16 April 2015

Have you ever wondered how much power your appliances use when connected to the power source but not operating?  International estimates suggest appliances that are switched off or in stand-by mode account for 5-10% of household power consumption.  Energy efficiency advocates call this ‘leaking electricity,’ ‘phantom load’ or ‘energy vampires.’  No matter the name, it is power you pay for but get little or no benefit from. 

At an international level there is pressure on manufacturers of electronic appliances to limit the energy used by appliances in stand-by mode.  Many are now limiting power use in stand-by mode to 1 Watt or lower.  If you are buying a new appliance, ask whether it meets the 1 Watt standard.  If not, check to see if models with lower stand-by power use are available in your price bracket.

Most of us won’t be buying new electrical appliances any time soon.  Here’s some simple low-cost and no-cost tips for combating energy drain, rounded up from various international experts:

  • Unplug your chargers when they are not in use
  • Unplug devices you don’t use often - like an extra TV or an old computer
  • Set your computer to go into sleep mode when not in use
  • Use a multi-board  so you can switch off a cluster of devices at once, maybe:
    • In the lounge for your TV, DVD, VCR and Gaming devices
    • In the office for your computer, printer, scanner & phone charger
    • In the kitchen for your toaster, coffee maker and microwave (if you can do without the clock).

Component Headline Stand-by power


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