Reduce Energy Waste of Equipment on Standby


Summary: Legislators can significantly reduce energy consumption in households and offices by limiting the energy used by equipment in standby mode. The energy consumed by appliances in standby mode has been growing rapidly. TVs, computers and other appliances in standby may well consume as much as 10% of the energy used in households and an even higher share in office buildings. A 1 Watt standard for equipment in standby mode can reduce this energy waste significantly. A 1 Watt standard applied to public purchases in the US is expected to save 4 billion kWh of energy and 300 million dollars of government spending.


The idea: 

Many appliances use electricity when they are in standby mode or even when they are switched off. The amount of electricity used while electrical equipment does nothing but wait can be as high as 10% of the total electricity consumption of a modern household and even higher in office buildings. High-energy consumption in standby mode is costing citizens millions of dollars, and is releasing hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere. Appliances with standby mode are becoming increasingly common and its share of total energy consumption is therefore likely to grow substantially unless appropriate policies are developed. Setting a standard for standby power can help to address this problem with little or no inconvenience to the consumer.

Legislators and governments have different options for reducing energy used by equipment in standby mode. A 1 Watt standard can target public procurement or the entire market for new electrical appliances, and it can work through a mandatory regulation, voluntary agreements with industry or public information campaigns.

The US issued an Executive Order in 2001 requiring government authorities, where possible, to procure new equipment conforming to the 1 Watt standard, and this is expected save 4 billion kWh of energy and 300 million dollars of government spending. Australia has made voluntary agreements with industry which may be replaced by mandatory regulations, while Denmark has focused its efforts on public information campaigns. There are now a considerable number of appliances on the market conforming to the 1 Watt limit, and new initiatives are under way in the parliaments of Brazil, the EU and Ghana to promote a 1 Watt standard for electrical equipment and appliances in standby mode.

Action has already been taken by the US and Australian governments.