What is Standby Power?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 February 2020
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If you take a quick look around your home, you will likely see many devices that have a standby power option. Televisions, cordless telephones, CD players and, of course, the personal computer are all able to have standby power. Although the device may not be in use, if it is on standby power, it will still be consuming power.

When a device is on standby power, it is ready to be switched on instantly. Although not obviously in use, the device will still be drawing power from the electricity source, usually much more than is commonly thought to be the case. Most devices that can be switched on with a remote control have a standby power option. If you have pressed the off button on the remote but not switched the device off completely then there will still be power in the device.

Many campaigns and green eco-friendly advertisements have warned the public about the energy consumption of standby power devices. But many people would be surprised by how much power is wasted by using the standby option. One or two devices left on standby may not seem much but take a look at how many appliances are actually left drawing power all day.


Recent figures were produced that highlighted the astonishing amount of waste the standby power option produces. By using the standby power option on devices, a home's energy consumption is increased by at least 10%. Each appliance on standby power will usually consume around 14 watts of energy. It may not sound like much but if that is multiplied by the amount of devices in the house that use the standby power option, it is drastically increased.

One of the biggest culprits of wasted power is the personal computer. Unless this is switched off completely, either at the back of the computer or unplugged, there will still be some power use. In 2007, the amount of computers used on the planet will have hit the billion figure. The power wasted by one million personal computers on standby power is the equivalent of 250 thousand liters of gasoline per day.

Turning off appliances completely will save energy and help the earth, as well as saving consumers money on their utility bills. Many appliances now have markings such as the Energy Star label. This label means that the appliance is more energy friendly and has a sleep device that switches the appliance off after a set time. It may not seem like a lot, but by stopping standby power usage, a great deal is being done to keep the planet healthy.


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