Things that go Blip in the Night

Standby Power and How to Limit it

International Energy Agency

Appliances and other electrical equipment increasingly draw power when they are switched off or not performing their primary function. This "standby power" provides remote control capability, network sensing, digital display and other features. Often, standby power is consumed simply because power supplies remain "on" while their appliances are switched "off". Standby power consumption is about 10 per cent of OECD residential energy use or the equivalent of a 60-watt light bulb operating continuously in each OECD household. Standby power consumption can be reduced by an average of 75 per cent with cost-effective design changes and technological improvements. Savings as high as 90 per cent can be achieved in many appliances without any reduction in services. Some products have already achieved very low standby power consumption at little or no cost. But standby power consumption is normally not high enough to command consumer attention. International collaboration is essential to reduce standby power consumption, since so many products and components are traded internationally. Consistent approaches, such as test procedures, standards and voluntary efforts, could also benefit manufacturers by reducing costs and barriers to trade.

This book lays out the problem posed by growing standby power consumption, explores fully the technologies available to reduce it, and outlines how increased collaboration among industry, national governments and international organisations can help.