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  • TV remote

    How to Reduce Standby Energy Consumption



July 2018


Ever wondered how much the ‘standby’ power on your appliances is costing you?

Many appliances around your home sit idle in standby mode for much of the day. From the laundry to the home office, the kitchen to the lounge room, there are little lights everywhere - blinking or glowing on appliances that aren’t actually being used.

These lights signal to you that your trusty appliance is ready to get going again at the press of a button. But just how much does standby mode cost you? How much power does a TV use on standby? Can you easily reduce standby power consumption?

Let’s take a look at what standby mode means, what it costs, and what you can do about it.

What is standby consumption?

Standby power, sometimes referred to as phantom power, is energy consumed by appliances when they aren’t technically ‘on’. So, it might be a television that’s turned off but could be fired up by pressing the remote. Or, a washing machine that isn’t doing a load. Often, it’s that Xbox or computer that hasn’t been turned off that sits there scanning for updates.

On their own, appliances don’t chew up too much energy in standby mode. But once you tally up all of the appliances in your home, standby energy usage accounts for up to 10% of the average Australian electricity bill.1

There are two types of standby power:

  • Active standby – this is when an appliance is turned on but not being used (e.g. a washing machine or DVD player)
  • Passive standby – this is when an appliance is turned off but could be activated by remote control or timer (e.g. a TV)

How much standby power does a TV use each year?

Let’s take a look at your television – just one appliance in the home that consumes standby power. Its standby power consumption will depend on things like its energy efficiency, size, screen type and so on, not to mention how long you leave it on standby each day.

To work out your TV’s standby power consumption, you’ll need to check the specifications in the instruction manual. Standby power consumption should be listed in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW).

Let’s say it’s 3W. To estimate the annual standby power consumption:

  1. Convert W to kW by dividing it by 1,000 eg. 3 divided by 1,000 = 0.003kW
  2. Find your hourly kilowatt rate by checking your bill eg. 35 cents per kWh
  3. Multiply the standby power by the energy tariff to find the hourly standby cost eg. 0.003 x 35 = 0.105 cents per hour
  4. Then estimate how many hours that the TV is on standby for per day, and multiply that by 365 days eg. 20 hours per day x 356 days a year = 7300 hours per year
  5. To get your TV’s annual standby power cost, multiply the number of hours by the cost per hour eg. 0.105 x 7300 = $7.66

The costs can quickly add up if you do the same calculation for other appliances in the home. So, what can you do about it?

Tips to reduce standby power consumption

Here are some simple changes you can make to reduce the amount that you’re spending on standby power. Soon, all that phantom power around your home will be a thing of the past.

  • Switch off at the wall – this is a behaviour change, and may take some getting used to. When you’ve done a load of washing, turn the machine off at the wall. Or, at the end of the day, go around and turn off home entertainment systems and home office equipment at the wall. If an appliance is switched off at the wall, its standby power consumption is zero.
  • Invest in standby power controllers – these are powerboards that do the work of reducing standby power consumption for you (in other words, they figuratively ‘flick the switch’ at the wall for you). The common one is a ‘master and slave’ powerboard – say you shutdown a computer (the master), then it switches off all attached devices like printers or hard drives (the slaves).
  • Shop smart for new appliances – when it’s time to upgrade a household appliance, don’t just look at its energy rating when in use. Find out about its standby energy score, too.
  • Use smart home devices – there are heaps of home automation tools on the market today that help your home run as efficiently as possible. When it comes to standby power, set up a timer system that switches off devices at certain times of the day; or an intelligent ‘off’ switch if there’s no activity after a certain period of time.

The final word

With so many appliances plugged in around our homes, standby power consumption contributes more than many would think to annual electricity bills. A few quick changes to your habits at home could save a significant amount of money each year.


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