Standby Power Hogs

Standby power hogs, aka vampire power, is the silent killer of efforts to reduce a person’s carbon footprint.

According to StandbyPower, a website published by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, there are typically 40 devices in an average household that constantly draw power, equaling up to 10 percent of total household electricity consumption. Check out the recent Green Blizzard article about vampire energy.

If you have a family of four and consume about 1000-1200 kilowatts a month, that’s an annual standby consumption of 1,400 kilowatts, or about $220 a year. With a few minutes of thought and effort, you could probably cut that amount in half.

Green Blizzard can offer a few ways to cut standby power usage (standby power hogs) without much inconvenience. The first challenge is to identify products that draw standby power, which isn’t always easy.

The typical clues for recognizing devices that continuously draw power are electronics that:

  • employ a remote control
  • use an external power supply
  • display a continuous digital output, LED status light or digital clock
  • utilize a battery charger
  • contain a soft-touch keypad

A product with one or more of these features will use standby power. However, devices that don’t contain these features may still use consumer standby power. The only way to be certain is to measure them with a watt usage meter (consider buying or borrowing an inexpensive watt usage meter).

To cut standby power and eliminate standby power hogs:

    Unplug products that are rarely used, such as a TV, clock, and DVD player in the guest room or other locations.

    Unplug all devices when you go on vacation, unless you want your DVR to record your favorite shows.

    Use a power strip with a switch and a timer to control clusters of products. The most common are computer clusters (PC, monitor, printer, scanner, speakers, wireless router, etc.), video clusters (TV, DVD, powered speakers, game consoles, etc.), and audio clusters (receiver, amplifier, CD players, etc.). Be sure to keep the set-top box and modem on a separate circuit to avoid loss of connection.
    Buy Energy Star endorsed products that have lower standby specifications.

Keep in mind that most rechargeable products gradually lose their charge when left unplug.  So don’t be surprised when that rechargeable flashlight isn’t fully charged when you need it. Unplugging some devices is a small but smart step you can take to reduce your overall electric usage. You’ll also be burning less fossil fuels and reducing your carbon footprint

leaf blowers harm the environmentVisit the Green Blizzard Store and be sure to read these other Green Blizzard articles: Use Natural Light to Save Electricity, Auto-Off Switches – The Skinny, Driving Your Electric Bill to Zero.


About the author

Keith Blizzard

A life-long environmentalist, Keith set out on the never ending journey of adjusting his lifestyle to a more sustainable one, with a goal of annually shrinking his carbon footprint. When he looked around for a dependable source of meaningful carbon footprint reduction ideas, it was pretty lame - so he launched Green Blizzard loaded with eco-friendly lifestyle tweaks. When he's not managing Green Blizzard, you'll find him on the trails around Mid Coast Maine with his trusty trail companion mutt, Moose.