One simple way to cut electricity use is to switch off things which use power in standby mode or through transformers which waste electricity as heat when they are plugged in, even if the appliance isn’t switched on! Some quick examples from recent EcoTeams findings:
- an old TV, which used 80 watts in use and 6 watts in standby
- a home inkjet printer which used 4 watts even when it was switched off
- a transformer for a small radio using 2 watts
These numbers don’t sound very much on their own, but they add up, especially as they are often on all the time. They’re referred to as ‘vampires’ and David MacKay has written about his ‘vampire-killing experiment’ which saved him £45 a year. David used an energy monitor to spot the vampires in the first place.
Add to this the list of things which can be connected as ‘peripherals’ to a computer, e.g. wireless router, printer, monitor, speakers, and you can see how this can all add up. TVs can also have lots of other devices such as set-top boxes, DVD players and amplifiers linked in.
The cheapest way to tackle this is to get into the habit of switching everything off at the wall when not in use.
However, it’s not always easy to do this, possibly because plugs are hidden behind a cupboard. This is where specialised plugs designed to eliminate standby can be useful. They are set up as follows:
- The main device (e.g. TV, PC or laptop) is plugged into the main socket
- All devices which can be switched off with the main device go into a ’switch off’ socket
- Everything that needs to be left on goes into an ‘always on’ socket
- Where the main device is a TV the plug needs to be set up to recognise the off/standby signal from the remote control
Then, when the main device is switched off, the plug will automatically turn the other devices off. When the main device is switched back on all the other devices will also be switched on.
- satellite boxes need to be plugged into the ‘always on’ socket as they remain on overnight to update the programming
- video recorders with built-in clocks also need to be always on, unless the clock holds its time with the power off
- wireless routers may need to be ‘always on’ if they are needed for other computers in the house. (However, routers can be put onto a timer so that they are switched off overnight, or during the day, as required.)
Thanks to Raven Housing Trust we were able to give these to residents in Redhill and Merstham and the feedback was very positive. Similar plugs (E.ON PowerDown) can also be requested through home visits in Tile Hill and Canley, thanks to Coventry City Council and E.ON (conditions apply, so please ask).
Please leave a comment below with other ideas about saving standby electricity. We’ll publish the best suggestions.