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Leaving Electrical Appliances On Standby

Many people know thier home electrical appliances are silently wasting electricity while on standby.

Average Electricity Use Per ApplianceThis table gives you a rough idea of how many Watts typical appliances use on standby compared to when in use

Appliance Standby (watts) In Use (watts)
Hi-Fi 12 22
Television 10 100
Video Recorder 1 13
DVD Player 7 12
Digital TV Box 5 6
Computer & Accessories 15 130
Computer Monitor 11 70
Laptop 2 29
Broadband Modem 14 14
Answer Machine 3 3
Mobile Phone Charger 1 5
TOTAL 82 404

These are average figures, so much will depend on how efficient your appliances are. [Source of this data]

Roughly Working Out The Cost Of Items On Standby

If you had one each of the devices above sitting on standby, you would be using a total 82 Watts per hour. If we assume that on an average day these things are on standby for 22 hours, that′s 82 x 22 = 1804 Watt-hours, or 1.804 kilowatt hours (kWh) of wasted electricity per day. Environmentaly and Financially speaking, it′s definitely worth turning these items off.

What Are The Effects On The Environment?

The impact on your finances are not the only thing to be considered. The electricity used on standby means an extra 283kg of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere a year needlessly. How much is 283kg of carbon dioxide? It’s equivalent to driving a normal car for 820 miles. It also adds up to nearly 10% of the carbon dioxide emissions produced by a home (including water heating, cooking and electrical appliances).

What To Do.

The simplest way of cutting out this waste is to turn things off at the wall, instead of leaving them on standby. You might find it easiest to do this if you use a 4-way extension with a master switch. Some people (and children!) find this takes a bit of getting used to, but it′s easy once you get into the habit. And don′t forget to turn everything off when going away on holiday - there are good fire safety reasons for doing this too.

If this is impractical for you or your family there are intelligent plugs on the market that will power off as soon as the main unit is powered off.

How Much Electricity Are These Appliances Using?

The above numbers in the illustration are a ballpark calculation, and could be wildly different depending on your house, your appliances, and how good you are about turning stuff off. If you want to calculate your figures, you will need an energy meter to find out what your kit uses when on standby. One way of doing this is using an online calculator.

It′s also possible to get plug-in electricity meters to measure how much each appliance uses. This is the easiest way to figure out how much the appliance uses on standby.

But Turning Them Off Is A Real Pain!

Some appliances will lose their settings when turned off, such as your favourite radio stations or the brightness settings on a TV. You′ll have to weigh up the pros and cons of this yourself (is it necessary to use your microwave as a clock?) Of course, much of this is just bad design on the part of the manufacturers - it is perfectly possible to store settings without consuming power (your PC never forgets the time does it?)

Instead of waking up to Breakfast News on TV, turn it off and use your mobile phone. Every mobile now comes with an alarm, and 99% of mobiles are left on overnight incase of emergency.

New Appliances?

If you are about to buy a new electrical appliance, make sure you consider the energy efficiency. An cheap-but-inefficient product could be a false economy because it will cost more to run. The good news is that recently many energy conscious products have been introduced to the market. You can compare the efficiency of a range of high street goods at www.sust-it.net. Even for something as small as a DVD player, the yearly running costs can vary from dramatically!

Satellite and Cable Set Top Boxes.

Satellite TV company Sky have recently updated their Sky boxes to automatically switch themselves a lower power mode when not being used (e.g overnight). All Sky HD boxes were sent an automatic update on the 26th March 2007, and Sky + boxes are being progressively updated too. Sky reckons that this will save an average of £2.50 off your electricity bills and overall 32,000 tonnes of CO2.