Let’s make ‘stand-by’ a thing of the past – Saving energy at home

‘Stand-by’ has been in the news again this week, with reports about the astounding amounts of energy we waste leaving household goods half on, half off in a weird quantum-like state that it’s surprisingly hard to avoid. So what’s the problem?

Far too many gadgets and appliances are made with stand-by the norm. Which means it’s not possible – or very inconvenient – to turn the dratted things completely off.

If I turn our Bosch oven off at the wall switch, for example, it loses all its settings so we have to fiddle with it every time to re-set the clock and so on. But there’s absolutely no valid reason why we should have to leave it on all day when we only use it for an hour or less in the evenings to cook our main meal. That’s just silly.

Some gadgets don’t even have an on/off switch, just a choice of either leaving them on stand-by or switching off completely at the wall socket.  Which is even sillier. Our TV digi-box takes ages to re-boot if we turn it off at the wall and sometimes plays dead when re-starting, which is a huge pain. The same goes for our broadband receiver.

So whose fault is it that we waste so much power? A lot of the time it’s manufacturers giving us no choice. The rest of the time it’s us being too lazy to switch off or too impatient to wait for things to boot up every time. And the cost soon adds up. The more things you leave ticking away uselessly when they’re not being used, the bigger the financial impact on your annual energy bills.

 How much power, on average, do appliances use when on stand-by?

  • a stereo uses around 12w when on standby
  • TV – 10w
  • DVD recorder –  7w
  • digital box –  5w
  • computer plus peripherals – 15w
  • computer monitor – 11w
  • laptop – 2w
  • answering machine – 3w
  • battery charger – 1w
  • mobile phone charger – 2w
  • total – 83w – which, depending on the cost of energy at the time, can add around £75 to your bill over the year

Next time you buy a new gadget or appliance, check first that you can turn it off properly and completely without causing problems or inconvenience. And if you’ve fallen out of the habit of turning stuff off at the wall, get back into the groove and cut the amount of cash you pay to energy suppliers. Most new products these days are manufactured with energy-saving in mind. If not, leave it on the shelf. With a bit of luck, consumer power will dictate that stand-by becomes a thing of the past before too long.

(Thanks to http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ColinBroug for the cool image)