Saturday, January 19, 2008

Power Strips and Standby Power

Most appliances and electronics in the home are never completely off. They are usually in standby mode ready for someone to touch a key or use the remote control. While in standby mode they are still drawing power twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Maybe its not much, perhaps only one to ten watts. But start counting the number of devices you have in your home and the standby power consumption can add up quickly.

It is estimated that 7% of the power used in a home is for devices in standby mode. It could amount to the equivalent of leaving two or three 100 watt light bulbs on all the time. These standby loads can add a significant amount to your electricity bill over a years time ($50 or more). They also add to the global warming CO2 going into the atmosphere since the electricity probably comes from a coal or natural gas fired electric power plant.

The standby loads also are called phantom loads and vampire loads. The devices that have standby modes include TVs, microwave ovens, cell phone chargers, battery chargers, computers, computer monitors, printers, video game consoles, VCRs, DVD players and stereos. Anything with a clock, remote control or LED ready light draws standby power.

What can be done to reduced these standby loads. There are two simple low cost ways to eliminate phantom loads. Unplug the device when not it use or use a power strip. The power strip is usually the most convenience since it can be used to turn off multiple devices with one flip of a switch.

I use power strips at home to turn my PCs completely off. One power strip is all that is needed to turn off the PC, monitor and printer. At my home, we usually only use our PCs in the evening. It makes sense to have them off the rest of the day. PCs can use up to 50 watts even in standby mode. So its good to shutdown PCs completely and then cut off their power with a power strip.

I also use a power strips at work. I have a laptop PC that fits in a docking station. Whenever I undock my PC, I flip the power strip off. That eliminates the standby load from the docking station and my desktop monitor.

I only plug my cell phone charger in when I am actually charging the cell phone. The charger will still draw some power even when the cell phone is not plugged in.

The only devices in my home I do not have on powers strips are the TVs. Its not just a matter of being able to use the remote control. It is that they also loose all their programming and need to search to fine all the channels again when power is re-applied.

For more information on Standby power see:

So unplug or use power strips to reduce the standby power loads in your home. You’ll save some money and help reduce CO2 emissions. That a win-win.

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