LITTLE STEPS: Standby to Switch Off

Today I’m writing about an electricity conservation tip that is so simple it drives me nuts when people won’t follow it. Our electrical appliances, entertainment devices, and other assorted gadgets all consume power when they’re plugged in and we’re using them. Simple concept, right? And they all use power when they’re plugged in and we’re not using them.  Simple concept, right? Well, for the majority of people, it would seem not.

All electrical devices fitted with standby mode continue to use power when you’re not using them. Switch the tv off at the remote, walk away, and it happily continues to use electricity, which, for most people, is generated by non-renewable resources. Even if you’re powering your house with solar or wind power, you’re still wasting it unnecessarily when standby is on. How can you tell that it’s still using power? The little glowing red light (or green, or blue, or yellow) is a bit of a giveaway. Those things don’t just glow by themselves!

But sometimes, there’s no light to remind you. Got an iPhone? Ipad? Plug it in to the wall to charge it? If you’re like most gadget owners, when it’s charged you remove the device and leave the charger plugged into the wall (and turned on if you’re in a country with switches on the sockets). Any device which does not need to be manually turned on after connecting the power cord, is one whose power source will continue to use electricity as long as it’s plugged into the wall (and turned on if applicable).

So think about all the devices which use standby in your house. TV? Stereo? Gaming console? DVD player? Microwave? Chargers? Computer? Laptop? Tablet? More? More than one of some items? And what about things you leave constantly connected to their plugged in charger: laptop? Rechargeable vacuum? rechargeable flashlight? Sensor Light? Others?

standby usage per product

Percentage contribution to total household standby power by type of product (in Australia, 2005). Image credit

So, how much electricity is being wasted in your house, and what does it mean? There’s a bit of a misconception out there that appliances on standby don’t continue to consume power. Um, remember that glowing light? And then there’s another misconception based around the ‘big deal’ factor. My husband Mr Raw was one of these frustrating ‘big deal’ people until recently. He couldn’t understand the ‘big deal’ about leaving items on standby. So what if they continued to use power? It’s not like they’d use much. Grrrrrrrrr……

Frustration No. 1: Any waste of power is a waste of power. Simple. As. That. Mr Raw is environmentally conscious and normally joins me in trying to do as much as we can to reduce our carbon footprint. So, if someone with his knowledge and commitment couldn’t understand this, how many other people were wasting all of this electricity? And when all of this standby wastage is added together, how much power are we wasting? So many people seem to forget the cumulative effect. In 2005 The Australian Conservation Foundation ran a Green Home workshop series with 200 residents of Bankstown. At the end of the program, a total of 166 appliances were now being turned off standby power, saving 14, 608 kilograms of greenhouse pollution per year.

Frustration No. 2: Again, a misconception illustrated by my husband, by putting the ‘big deal’ factor into dollar signs. So what if it wastes power? It’s not using much, about an extra 2 cents per year. Um no.

10% of your household’s electricity bill is caused by leaving appliances switched on at the wall

How much money is wasted in your home? Here’s a table by the South Australian Government listing 4 common household examples. Remember to multiply each items annual cost by the number of those items in your home. Then remember all the other appliances you use that aren’t listed on the table.

Appliance Average energy use Typical running cost per year
Cordless phone 3 W $9.20
Television 10 W $30.66
DVD player 8 W $24.53
Computer monitor 5 W $15.33

So, what to do? Simple! When you’re finished using something, switch it off at the wall. If you’re in a country without switches (ie. most countries), unplug the appliance/gadget/console/other power guzzling thing.

Frustration No. 3: The ‘but that is a big deal’ factor. The need to get off your butt and walk a few steps to unplug something. Depending on your age, you might remember a time before standby, when every time you wanted to change the TV channel you had to get up and do it manually. I’m not asking you to do that. Just to unplug it when you’re done. A very simple LITTLE STEP that will save you money and help to save our planet.

So now, over to you. Were you aware how much electricity standby mode used? Will you continue to use it? What would make you stop?

And if anyone can tell me how to get rid of that pasted table blooper below, let me know. Thanks!

All words by me. All material © RawOnceMore 2013


About Raw Once More

Recovering workaholic chronically ill perfectionist starting all over again (again!). After a crazy life (including running away with the circus), I'm learning to stay still and journeying towards health, happiness, and wholeness, by nourishing myself and the Earth. Interested in frugality, simplicity, creativity, sustainability, myo/diy, and living healthily with autoimmune disease.

Posted on May 1, 2013, in Eco-Friendliness and Sustainability, Frugal Tips, Little Steps and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Wow, this is great information. I will definitely start being more mindful of this and start unplugging things from the wall. 😉

  2. Found your entry when I searched for “save the planet”-related blogs on WordPress. Well written and I totally see your point! But I have a hard time myself to follow this advice. So far I have unplugged the kettle and the food processor. Better than nothing, I think… 🙂

    • Anything is ALWAYS better than nothing!But it’s the ones with the stand by lights that are most important. It is hard to break a habit, I know! Thanks for your kind words, hope to see you more around here 🙂

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