Weekend Warrior #12 – How to $ave on Standby Power

Have you ever counted how many of those little lights you have on around the house? Those little lights, chargers, computer cables and stuff are costing Australia around $480M per annum in energy bills, and are worth a power station.

Small things do make a difference [as Horton said; ‘a person’s a person, no matter how small’]. The best news I saw this morning was that Australia’s projected energy demand for the next year has dropped – talk about reversing a trend! Apparently our nationwide adoption of rooftop solar coupled with our efforts to reduce energy consumption and make our buildings greener is making a difference. Yeah!


ReNew Economy site – a great source of daily news on renewables

So we’re on the way. How can we keep going?

When I’m in light sleep mode [which is a lot lately thanks to Mr 2-year-old] I regularly notice a flashing next to my bed – it’s the standby/active light on the phone, which I never use. And I’ve never turned it off.

According to the Australian Commonwealth [visit energyrating.gov.au] approximately 10% of Australia’s residential energy consumption is from standby power – the little lights, blinkers, appliances and chargers that sprinkle our households with a night-time glow. I’ve come across other sites that claim it’s only 5%, so let’s work with that to be conservative.

household power

Clean Energy site

So what would 5% of your annual energy bill be? Doesn’t sound like much?

I’ve found a swathe of different opinions on what this might cost us on average over a year – and the most conservative estimate is $80 per family household based on 2013 prices. Multiply $80/family by 6 million family households in Australia [not even counting singles] and you get $480,000,000 of energy purchased just for standby power. Just for those little lights that have become part of the background. Could buy Christmas presents for a country or two.

To give you an idea of how we’ve managed this, the following chart shows an approximate distribution of our household standby power;


From the EcoSwitch site; Click image for source.

So, the challenge for this weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to hunt down and extinguish as much of the standby power at home as you can. Here are some tips;

  • turn off computer cables at the power point – if the pack is warm it’s using energy, even when the computer is off;
  • same with phone chargers – how many do you have hanging out of your wall full time? They use energy whenever the power point is on;
  • turn off your set-top box. I’ve heard some recent estimates that these comprise up to 11% of our total energy bill [!]. Go read a book.
  • turn the plasma screen ‘off’ off, at the switch on the TV. Try living without the remote for a while. We do because I haven’t been able to fix ours. We’ve adapted.

How many others can you find in your home? I’m going to get Mr 4-and-a-half to see if he can count all of ours. Should be fun. Might pay him a finders fee.


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