Phone chargers and “smart” devices such as washing machines and electronic equipment ready for remote control commands are a few of the many devices which consume a steady flow of electricity around the clock. This “standby mode” power drain can add up, though not everyone is aware of this!
Why Your Electric Meter Never Sleeps
Up to ten percent of a home’s electricity use may be from standby power drain, according to the Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab. Why? Standby mode keeps computers and video consoles ready to turn on quickly when needed instead of slowly booting up. It also lets your home theater equipment communicate not only with wireless remotes but also Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Standby mode consumes power 24 hours a day so that it will be there when you need it.
Drawbacks to Pulling the Plug
Unplugging or completely turning off these devices can interrupt their operation if they perform tasks occasionally when idle. This can be inconvenient if you want to access the devices remotely. In some cases, such as with audio amplifiers, the power surge which occurs on startup will be repeated more often which could cause wear over time.
If You Choose to Switch Off
Repeatedly pulling the plug can create a dangerously worn cord connection. If you know you won’t need it, you can use a timer to control when your device stands ready and when it’s 100% off, or use a master switch such as the one on a power strip. This is the best mix of energy efficiency and maintaining the integrity of your electronics.
What You Gain and How to Maximize It
Berkeley Lab has done some brief standby power draw experiments. They concluded that there are better ways to spend your energy-saving time in most cases than reducing standby power demands. Looking for the worst-case culprits might be a good way to compromise. You can use an inexpensive wattmeter, available at many libraries, to measure the actual power draw on a device. Labels will often indicate standby and full-on power requirements. The age of the device might be a clue, as older electronics will be more “demanding” while in standby mode.
For a residential electrician Frederick County Maryland residents turn to for complete electrical services—including expert power usage reduction strategies. Call Tim Kyle Electric, Heating & Cooling at 410-848-6324 or visit us online.