It’s never enjoyable to receive a power bill in the mail, but what if you could reduce it by a significant amount – and you will hardly notice? We’d all do it! But it turns out, many of us aren’t taking one simply step every night.
Devices with stand-by modes such as airconditioners, coffee machines, TVs and microwaves are costing Australian consumers $860 million a year and resulting in almost 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
While Australia’s average stand-by power usage has decreased by 68 per cent in the past decade, it still accounts for 5.9 per cent of Australia’s total household electricity consumption.
“One of the really frustrating things about standby power is that you can have two seemingly identical products, one with quite high standby power and one with a really low standby power,” Alan Pears, senior industry fellow at RMIT told Fairfax.
“Why? Because one designer made decisions so it shut down all the non-essential things and did what was left efficiently, and the other just used a crude design technique.”
But it’s not just our fault: Australia doesn’t regulate stand-by power in devices so some could use as much power in stand-by than another product. This is because it’s only been a recent addition to include stand-by power consumption in the star-rating Energy Efficiency program, said Lloyd Harrington, engineer and director of consultancy firm Energy Efficient Strategies.
“Most things would be in standby mode most of the time – like a TV would probably be used five or six hours a day then it would probably have 18 hours of standby,” he said.
“But most new televisions now have almost zero standby, because standby is now included in the [star-rating] label and so manufacturers get a reward if they improve that.”
So what can we do? Simple: you can switch off everything before you go to bed, or you can buy special power points that have a timer that turns off everything at once. In-house meters also work well to show consumption.