Standby Power, Timer Switches & More

What is Standby Power?

Standby power refers to the energy consumption of appliances when they are in an idle or off state, but they're still switched on at the wall.

Examples include a stereo system when it's not being used, or a television awaiting a signal from a remote control.

This standby power mode is also referred to as vampire mode, phantom load, ghost load, or leaking electricity.

Is Standby Power Really 10% of Electricity Consumption?

There's a rule of thumb that says 10% of household electricity consumption goes to this needless waste of power.

It seems that the 10% figure came from a very detailed study of standby power which was completed back in 2005 (link).

The study examined power usage at 120 houses in Australia. These homes contained a total of 8000 individual appliances.

The study concluded that these households had an average standby power draw of 92 Watts or 807kWh per year. This equated to exactly 10.7% of electricity usage.

When you break the results down by product area (below) you start to understand where your priorities should be to reduce standby power consumption. Computers and home entertainment equipment is an excellent place to start!

Standby Power Usage by Areas

 Percentage contribution to total household standby power by type of product.

A lot has changed since 2005, but standby power is still a big issue. On the one hand, standby power for many appliances such as TV's has gone down on a per-device basis. On the other, our homes are now fuller than ever with electronic gadgets.

If you want to find out which of your appliances are the biggest energy users, we recommend:

  • Power Meters - to measure plug-in appliances. They're ideal for examining standby power usage in more detail.
  • Energy Monitors - to check the electricity consumption of an entire home or workplace. They're also necessary to check the usage of any hard-wired appliances, such as lighting, air-conditing, and hot water.

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