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3 Easy Tips to Reduce Your Standby Power Loads

November 1, 2012 - 3:35pm

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Using a power strip to turn off electronics and appliances when they aren't in use ensures that they are truly off and not using extra electricity. | Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DonNichols.

Using a power strip to turn off electronics and appliances when they aren't in use ensures that they are truly off and not using extra electricity. | Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DonNichols.

Did you know that if your TV, computer and other appliances are plugged in, they are quietly draining electricity all day, every day, even when they are turned off? This phenomenon is known as standby power, or the electric power consumed by products when they are switched off or in a standby mode. We may not notice it, but standby power is a big issue. It accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of residential energy use, costing the average U.S. household $100 per year.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your standby power loads and save money, and we’re here to provide you with three easy tips that you can take action on right now:

  • Use a Power Strip with Switches. You can use a power strip with on/off switches to plug in your appliances. For example, I have a power strip in my living room, where my TV, DVD player, game system and sound system are all plugged into. I have another power strip in my office, where my computer, printer, paper shredder, lamp and phone charger are plugged in. If you plug all of your products into a power strip and flip off the power strip when these items are not in use, they are truly off.
  • Unplug Your Products. Another sure way to reduce your standby power load is to just unplug your products. Now, there are some products that you may want to keep plugged, such as the digital alarm clock in your bedroom or the refrigerator. For me, it would be quite a pain to have to reset the alarm clock or have to buy new groceries every day! But there are many appliances that you may not need to have plugged in, such as the microwave or toaster oven.
  • Consider using ENERGY STAR® products. Many ENERGY STAR products are energy efficient and have lower standby power than comparable non-ENERGY STAR products. The Standby Power Data Center, a website from DOE's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), helps federal agencies and the general public to identify low standby power products. For more information on lower standby power products, check out FEMP’s website.

So, there you go -- three simple ways to reduce or eliminate your standby power, and save some money too!

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