How many of your appliances are sitting in standby mode right now? These days, there are appliances in every room of the house including the kitchen, laundry, lounge-room, bathroom and home office that aren’t really switched off and are just sleeping. We have all seen those small lights that help lead the way in the dark.

Have you ever wondered how much this is costing you? How much energy does a television use on standby? Can you easily reduce standby power consumption? Let’s find out.

What is standby consumption?

When you leave your appliances on standby mode energy is still being consumed, sometimes this is referred to as phantom power. It is usually the laptop or computer that’s still receiving updates and notifications or the television that no one is using but is ready for someone to come along and press that button on the remote.

Usually, standby mode for one appliances doesn’t waste much energy but many families have more than one TV or laptop in the house. Once you add all your devices up, standby energy usage can account for up to 10% of the average Australian electricity bill.1

Different types of standby power:

  • Active standby – when an appliance is turned on but not being used.
  • Passive standby – this is when an appliance is turned off and could be “woken up” by remote control or timer (e.g. a Television).

How much standby power does a TV use?

There is one culprit that tends to be on standby most of the time, your television. Many factors play a part in its standby power consumption, such as its energy efficiency and rating, size, screen type, plus how long it’s left on standby each day.

To calculate your TV’s standby power usage, you’ll need to find the instruction manual and check it’s specifications. You should see the standby power consumption listed in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW).

Here’s the formula to calculate the annual consumption...let’s say it’s 4W.

  • Convert W to kW by dividing it by 1,000 eg. 4 divided by 1,000 = 0.004kW
  • Get your hourly kilowatt rate from your electricity bill eg. 30 cents per kWh
  • Multiply the standby power by the hourly rate to get the hourly standby cost eg. 0.004 x 30 = 0.12 cents per hour
  • Then estimate how many hours that the TV is on standby for per day, and multiply that by 365 days eg. 15 hours per day x 356 days a year = 5,475 hours per year
  • To get your TV’s annual standby power cost, multiply the number of hours by the cost per hour eg. 5,475 x 0.12 = $6.57

Do the same calculation for other appliances in the home and the cost will slowly start to add up. So, how can you reduce your consumption?

Ways you can reduce your standby power usage

  • Switch off at the wall – if an appliance is switched off at the wall, its standby power consumption is zero. So get into the habit of turning appliances off at the wall when you’re done using them.
  • Get yourself standby power controllers – basically they are fancy powerboards that have a “master and slave”, they pretty much turn the wall switch off for you. For example, if your TV (the master) is plugged into a power controller and you turn it off, it switches off all the devices that are attached like the Xbox or DVD player (the slaves).
  • Make educated decisions when buying appliances – when you’re looking at purchasing new appliances look at its energy rating when in use as well as when it’s on standby.
  • Invest in smart home devices – there are many smart devices available that can help your home run efficiently. A simple one is a timer system that switches off your appliances at certain times of the day.

To wrap it up

On their own, appliances don’t use a lot of energy in standby mode. The cost really comes when you add up every single device in your house. If you’re keen to start saving, just flick the wall switch to off when you’re done using an appliance, these kinds of changes to your daily habits could save you a lot of money in the long run.