Standby electricity use

No, there\’s a mistake here:

The study, which closely monitored the electricity use of 250 homes, found that the households were spending between £50 and £86 on gadgets in a \”non-active\” or standby state, equivalent to 9pc to 16pc of the average electricity bill.

I\’m not sure I believe that but say that we do.

Across the UK, households could be losing £1.3 billion by not fully switching off computers, televisions and other electronic devices, the research from the Energy Saving Trust and two government departments revealed.

Err, no, you cannot do that. For:

The Powering the Nation report revealed that the households studied were using around 10pc more than average UK energy use,

Sigh, you cannot multiply out what you know to be above average use across all households.

What you\’ve possibly found is why these households are using more than average. But you most certainly cannot conclude from your more than average households that everyone is doing this.

9 thoughts on “Standby electricity use”

  1. ‘We shall not rest until everyone is on above average incomes’.
    I have to wonder, was the goal to produce something suggesting people would benefit financially from fully powering off ‘standby’ items? Show them where they can make big savings and maybe change their habits…..?

  2. Doesn’t all this depend on the relative efficiency of households’ heating systems/insulation vs the heat given off by the gadgets relative to the energy consumed?

    If I leave my TV on standby, much of the ‘wasted’ energy is actually being converted to heat. If my house is properly insulated then my central heating system will need to use less energy to heat the house.

    Not that this would apply in the height of summer, granted.

  3. I’m not sure what the point of standby mode is, but I’ve been told it extends the lifespan of the device by not having the circuitry booted up and down from cold. If this is true, £50 to avoid paying for a new TV for another 3 years might be worth it.

  4. Oh gawd! are they still quoting this shite? There was some greenie On R4 a while back reckoning mobile phone chargers left plugged in were requiring an entire power station to supply them. Well, yes, if everyone was still using 12 year old phones. Remember? The ones where the charger used be warm if you left it in? Pretty well all chargers, as opposed to power packs for £3 Christmas lights, use nothing when they’re not charging. Couple mA. TV on standby? Tried measuring one once & got a power drain’d run out a couple of AAs in a week.
    Look. The clue’s in Vir Cantium’s post. If a device is using energy it must be going somewhere. In light, heat, noise or mechanical movement. We can discount radio because there aren’t many household devices broadcast constant RF* So if it ain’t shining, hot, buzzing or rattling it ain’t doing anything. Hence it’s not using energy in significant amounts. And as the poster correctly points out, pretty well all energy use ends up as heat. It’s the entropy thing. So it all gets added to the household heating requirement anyway. Which for the UK is 2/3 the year.

    But these articles crop up with monotonous regularity. They’re intended to make us feel guilty about all our electronic bling. And have zero relevance to sensible energy use.

    *OK. The one exception is the wifi router. And computer equipment can use a lot of unnecessary juice. Especially as so few people seem to work out how to set up a power management scheme so it goes into sleep mode if not doing anything.

  5. The only way you can get a DC power brick the size they are is via a switch-mode power supply. No-one uses linear PSUs any more. No-load drains are microamps.

    Computers can use a bit of power if they’re on all the time, it is true. I allow my Windows laptops to go to sleep, since they’re just toys and don’t need to be active all the time. But my Mac and Linux boxes are servers, and need to be up and running 24/7. Likewise routers/switches/modems etc. I may have an atypical setup, but far from unknown. Plus, flat-screen monitors are much more efficient than CRTs.

    The biggest energy user in most houses is a fridge/freezer. Tumble dryers need a lot of power, too. Electric hot water heaters, if inadequately lagged, can account for a big chunk of the bill.

  6. Vir & Bloke in Spain: entirely correct on the physics, but the economics still make it worthwhile powering devices off completely unless you heat your home with peak rate electricity; gas is about 1/4 the price of electricity per kwh. Which shouldn’t be surprising, as a large proportion of our electricity is generated by burning gas and transforming the energy through various forms (chemical->heat->heat->kinetic->electrical, if I haven’t missed a step). Lots of losses at each stage.

    Tim N: There is a reliability benefit (through avoiding temperature cycles) to keeping devices fully-on, but standby modes will usually power down most of the components except for those in the PSU, so the effect is minimal in many cases.

    David G: LED-backlit flat-screen monitors are more efficient than CRTs, but those backlit with cold cathode tubes aren’t necessarily much more efficient. My Lenovo L220x 22″ LCD is 90W, my old Sun Hurricane 21″ CRT was 135W (typical)/200W (max). Lenovo’s current LT2252p 22″ LED-backlit monitor is 20W.

  7. The sort of cost they’re talking about corresponds to about 60W continuous power. Current standards specify a maximum standby power drain of 1W, and a lot of devices will be well below that. Against which there are quite a few old devices still in use.

    Some people will have a computer which they leave running all the time: that would use more than 60W in itself. It’s not clear whether this is included in the calculation.

    LCD monitors with LED backlighting are indeed much more efficient than CRTs for a given screen area, but typically they’re much larger too.

  8. bloke in spain,

    But these articles crop up with monotonous regularity. They’re intended to make us feel guilty about all our electronic bling.

    Exactly. This is about failing to make ritual sacrifices to Gaia (turning off TVs) and not much of a problem.

    The amount of power being used by TVs and computers is falling all the time – more efficient processors, solid state storage and so forth. The market has an incentive to do it already, as it then gives mobile users greater battery life.

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