Please (Don’t) Standby

Photo by functoruser | flickr.com

Photo by functoruser | flickr.com

It’s Sunday night. You’ve watched some TV, cooked on the stove, played some video games, had some computer time, and now you’re ready for some sleep. Before you head off to bed you made sure that you’ve turned off all your appliances that you’ve used today and that you’ve shut off all your lights. You go to bed guilt-free.

However, in reality, turning off your appliances is only half the work.

Did you know that your electronic devices and appliances use energy even when turned off? Often these types of items are placed in a standby mode if plugged in, using up unnecessary energy. Think of it like idling cars, but for electrical appliances.

Even when shut off, electricity is often used to power things like clocks on stoves and microwaves and small LED lights on some electronics. Electricity is also used by phone and laptop chargers even when they aren’t charging anything. Furthermore, a significant amount of electricity runs through appliances indefinitely so that they are ready to switch on as quickly as possible.

According to SaskPower, electrical devices use an average of 40% of their power while they are turned off. Overall, standby power losses (often termed phantom power) make up about 10% of an average home’s electricity consumption. To put this into perspective, if all standby losses were eliminated in your home, you would save on over a month’s worth of electricity every year!

 There are several ways to fight standby power losses. For example, you could use an energy monitor to keep track of electricity use. These devices tell you exactly how much electricity you are using in an instant (even when devices are “off”). You can even use them to analyze how much electricity is used by every device in your home.

 Because these devices act as a constant visual reminder, some studies have shown that they help to reduce overall home energy use. When purchasing new electronic devices: Be Smart. Buy electronic devices that are specifically built to minimize standby power losses or are built with low power consumption.  Try looking for items with eco-friendly industry certifications such as EnergyStar.

But, the simplest and most effective way to minimize or eliminate standby power losses is to unplug yourself from the power grid. Pull the plug on all electronic devices when not in use. To make this easier (and time efficient), plug all the devices in one area into a single power bar. This way, all you have to do is unplug that before you crash into bed. Try it out! Enjoy sleep with the peace of mind that your technology-free time is truly ‘tech-free’.