Watt by Watt, Waste Adds Up
Average North American homes have between 20-40 consumer electronic devices, over and above lighting and appliances. These include products such as televisions, CD or DVD/BluRay players, cable or satellite boxes, game consoles, laptops, home computers and their monitors, printers, battery chargers, handheld devices and their chargers and many other products. The electricity used by these and others plugged in to wall sockets is often referred to as “plug load”.
While each device uses relatively little electricity, their combined consumption adds up. A 2011 energy audit of over 300 Canadian single-family homes found that just entertainment and home office equipment accounted for 20% of electricity used in non-electrically heated homes.
The Phantom Menace
Many of these devices also use electricity even when they seem to be turned off. That’s because they need power to run clocks, remote controls, touch pads and additional functions such as network connections, timers and auto-programming. This lower level of power is called standby mode, sleep mode, low power mode or phantom power. The only way to stop that small but steady drain on your electricity is to pull the socket out of the wall, or, if it’s plugged into a power bar, switch it off.
In Canada, regulations were established in April 2012 to make sure that televisions and video and compact audio equipment use less than one watt when they’re not performing a function. However, many products such as older TVs, DVRs and game consoles use higher levels of standby energy. Also, most cable or satellite boxes use full power 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.
Slow the flow
Here are some tips to cut down on plug load waste.
- ‘Out Smart’ Energy bills with Advanced Power Strips
Plug your entertainment system into an advanced power strip (APS). An APS lets you turn off most of your system when you shut off your TV while allowing necessary equipment to stay on standby. For your home office, you can install the APS to leave your router powered, while turning off the tower, display, speakers, printers and other peripherals.
- Cut that standby energy waste!
Unplug little used products such as guest TVs. Plug in battery chargers only when needed. Turn your game console off when not in active use.
- Give your Energy bill a vacation too!
Unplug everything when you are away for extended periods of time. Why pay for extra watts when you’re not at home?
- Be a wise consumer!
Purchase wisely. Every additional feature that uses power adds to your consumption and costs. Choose products with only the features and displays you’ll really use.
- Buy ENERGY STAR
The small star symbol tells you that a product has been third party certified to be among the most energy efficient products you can buy.
- Energy-using features are tested to meet rigorous limits.
- Standby power is limited to one watt or less for all qualified consumer electronics.
- Set top boxes are a special case. In order for them to qualify for ENERGY STAR, your cable, satellite or telecomm service provider must ensure that they perform to ENERGY STAR specifications in your home. Call your service provider now, and ask for an ENERGY STAR qualified set top box!
Bringing home ENERGY STAR qualified products helps you to save money, conserve energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
ENERGY STAR Criteria, Specifications and Lists
In Canada, the following consumer electronics qualify for ENERGY STAR:
- Audio-video products
- Battery charging systems
- Cable, satellite and telecomm equipment (Set-top boxes)
- Cordless telephones
*Televisions have also received the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient designation. Each year, this designation recognizes the most efficient products among those that qualify for ENERGY STAR®. These exceptional products represent the leading edge in energy efficient products.
Computers, displays and imaging also qualify for ENERGY STAR under the Office Equipment category of products.
View the current list of ENERGY STAR qualified product models.
For additional information on the criteria for ENERGY STAR, view the full technical specifications.
Products that are not supported in Canada
- VCRs – discontinued as of November 1st, 2008
- EPS (external power supplies) Regulated for minimum energy performance April 2012. The ENERGY STAR Initiative in Canada does not support External Power Supply (EPS) or Adaptors.
Availability of ENERGY STAR Labelled Electronics
List of manufacturers of ENERGY STAR qualified electronic products that have joined in Canada.
List of retailers that sell ENERGY STAR qualified electronic products in Canada.
Standby Power – When "OFF" means "ON" (Fact Sheet)
Standby Power (General Information)
The ENERGY STAR name and symbol is administered and promoted in Canada by Natural Resources Canada and is registered in Canada by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.