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Personal: Residential


Standby Power

Reducing Standby Power

Buy ENERGY STAR Qualified Products

Because consumer electronics spend more time turned off than on, one of the ENERGY STAR criteria for these types of equipment is based on power consumption in Standby or sleep mode. ENERGY STAR qualified electronics can consume significantly less electricity than conventional products when they are turned off. Imagine the savings in electricity and greenhouse gas emissions if everyone bought ENERGY STAR qualified products! We would have the same high quality and functions at a fraction of the overall energy cost.

Watt Meters : Measure Standby Power Consumption with Watt Meters

Purchase, rent, or borrow (available at some public libraries) a watt meter that will help determine the biggest Standby Power consuming products - those that should be addressed in priority. Choose your battles - you probably do not need to unplug the device consuming less than 1 W of Standby Power. Please note that most of these meters are likely not able to read below 1W.

Unplugging Certain Electronics

Unplugging certain electronics when you do not intend to use them for awhile:

If you have home electronics that are used infrequently (such as a second TV, DVD player or audio system), plug them into a power bar that can easily be turned off to avoid Standby Power consumption. Also unplug battery chargers and external power supplies when they are not being used or plug them into a power bar that can be turned off when not needed.

Items not practical to unplug

  • Garage door openers
  • Alarm systems
  • Computer routers
  • Computers

Items that shouldn't be unplugged without checking operating instructions

  • Satellite receivers / set-top boxes
  • TVs with built in fans that remain on for some time to cool the TV down after it has been shut off (check your TV's manual)

Items with high average power consumption in passive and/or active standby mode, based on a basket of tested products

  • TVs
  • Set-top boxes
  • DVD players/recorders
  • Speakers (computer)
  • Printers (especially laser printers)
  • Integrated stereos
  • Video game consoles
  • Multi-function devices
  • Portable stereos
  • Home theatre components
  • Digital photoframes
  • Clothes washing machine

Power Bars

Use power bars

You can plug your home office equipment (computer, monitor, speakers, printer, scanner, etc.) into a power bar that can be easily turned off when the equipment is not in use. Some of these power bars also protect your electronics from power surges and/or reduce the noise for your electronics.

Intelligent power bars

Intelligent power bars are a more convenient way to reduce Standby Power usage. They can do the thinking for you. Intelligent power bars have slight variants, depending on which one you choose.

A typical intelligent power bar has the following:

  • A master receptacle
  • Many slave receptacles
  • Always on receptacles

Simply plug the main device (such as a TV) into the master receptacle and other devices (such as a DVD player, VCR, video game console, etc) into the slave receptacles. Turning off the TV (plugged into the master receptacle) will cause all the devices plugged into the slave receptacles to shut off completely, automatically saving energy and money. These intelligent power bars also have receptacles that always stay on, for devices that should not have power cut off completely (like set-top boxes).

This is not the only type of power bars. Alternatively, there are also power bars designed to offer a timer that will cut off electricity to designated receptacles at a user-specified time interval. There are also power bars that detect motion and will turn off automatically after a certain amount of time when there is no motion. Several other new types of intelligent power bars may also be available. It is worth researching until you find the one that best suits your needs.

More Ways to Save on Standby Power: Standby Power Consumption of Existing Stock vs. New Products

Electronics and appliances purchased 10 years ago will likely consume significantly more Standby Power than a new product. Therefore, consider plugging them into power bars to reduce Standby Power consumption by turning them off when not in use. When you choose to replace older electronics and appliances, look for products that are ENERGY STAR certified to help reduce Standby Power consumption.

More specific ways to reduce Standby Power consumption around the house.