Is electrical standby power significant enough to worry about?

The amount of energy used by products when they are in standby mode is significant.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy between 5% and 10% of all the electricity consumed in the home is standby power used to keep electronics running when those devices are supposedly “off.” The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are in standby mode and on a national basis, standby power accounts for more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs.

The culprits are AC adapters for our cell phones, cordless phones/answering machines, clock-radios, microwaves, TVs, DVD players, computers, stereos, etc.  One or two of these ghost loads is no big deal, but take a modern house with many devices and modern appliances and you have an errant waste of electricity.

There are ways to reduce this load.  All ENERGY STAR qualified products are among the lowest power consuming in their category in standby mode. Enable the power management settings on your computer and monitor, so they go into power save mode when not in use. Use a power strip as a central “turn off” point when you are done using equipment, which completely disconnects the power supply. You can use one for your computer and all peripheral equipment, and another for your home electronics (TV, VCR, DVD, stereo, gaming).

Keep in mind though that if you’ve set a timer to wake up a product, such as programming a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) to record a program, then the product must remain plugged in (and able to draw standby power) to function as intended.

Unplug chargers: cell phone chargers, camera chargers, battery chargers or power adapters, etc. These are drawing some amount of energy even when not in use (and even when not connected to an end-use product).

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