Standby power: small actions have big consequences
As awareness of energy costs, shortages, and consumption rises, this awareness grows to encompass concepts and ideas not previously explored. Whereas many individuals once thought their only role in energy conservation lay in the realm of what car they bought and how they used that car – carpooling or using mass transit for work commutes versus driving very short distances constantly – more and more we’re all beginning to realise that there are, in fact, many aspects of our daily and home lives that have a drastic impact on our power consumption and level of energy efficiency. In addition, we’re coming to realise that while our individual impact on worldwide energy consumption might be tiny, when massed together as a community, state, or nation it becomes not only measurable, but startling.
The new normal: standby power
As a result, new terms and concepts are being introduced into the conversation. One of these new concepts that home-owners and individuals didn’t have to wrestle with until recently is standby power. Standby power is, basically, the power that is used by appliances and devices in the home even when they are technically switched off. Many people assume that when they turn off, for example, their televisions, no more electricity is being drawn from the wall outlet, but this is not true. Many modern devices do not have a literal ‘off’ state; they draw small amounts of power in order to maintain programmed states, to keep clocks and other systems running, or to monitor themselves. Many of these functions are unnecessary – after all, how many digital clocks do you need running in your kitchen?
Standby power: the consequences
It’s estimated that standby power accounts for 10% of a home’s overall electricity usage, though this is only about 3% of the overall total energy usage, which includes natural gas or heating oil as well. 10% of the electricity used by your home is a very large amount of energy to be wasted.
Additionally, having electricity constantly running through a device or appliance poses a real risk of fire. While uncommon, electrical fires in switched-off devices and appliances do occur, and if the appliances are left unattended overnight or while the home-owner travels these fires will burn out of control.
Standby power: changing thinking
Up until recently, standby power was considered a standard and unregulated practice, and the power levels used by various devices and appliances varied wildly. Recently, with renewed concern for energy conservation, standby power has become much more efficiently implemented as manufacturers attempt to both reduce the power consumed by their products and to justify the use of standby power at all. Advances in the components used in these products has also reduced energy consumption even if standby power is still utilised.
Standby power: your part
Still, standby power remains a common component to many devices that may not benefit the consumer in any real way. Home-owners seeking to reduce their energy footprint would do well to consider that 10% of electricity is leaking from their homes every day, week, month, and year, and how that directly translates to power you’re paying for but receiving no benefit from.
A simple solution is to switch your appliances and devices off at the wall, ensuring that no electricity is used unless you are actively using the device. This can be inconvenient, of course, so a solution such as an EcoSwitch can be used to make it a bit easier and efficient. An EcoSwitch stands between your device and the wall socket; when used in conjunction with a power strip it can link several devices together, and with one push of a button all the devices are cut off from the power source, immediately stopping standby power sipping. Employing a simple device like an EcoSwitch can have a tremendous impact on both your energy footprint and your utility bills!
The goal is to conserve energy and to find new ways to live more efficiently without sacrificing the enjoyment of life or the pursuit of our goals. As more and more aspects of our modern lifestyle, such as standby power and its implications, are examined, we take steps towards a cleaner, more efficient future to which we have all directly contributed.