Consumer Tips to Cut Standby Power

There are only a few ways to cut standby power use without leading to inconvenience. The first challenge is to identify products that draw standby power. Here are clues to recognizing products that draw power continuously.

Clues to products with standby power use:

  • Remote control
  • External power supply
  • Digital display, LED status light, or digital clock
  • Contains a battery charger
  • Has soft-touch key-pad

A product with one or more these features will have standby power use; however, other products won't have any of these and may still have standby. The only way to be certain is to measure them with a meter. A quick survey of most homes will reveal at least twenty devices having one of these features. Here's how to cut standby:

  • Unplug products that are rarely used. The best example is the television and VCR in the second guest room.
  • Use a power strip with a switch to control clusters of products. The most likely targets are computer clusters (PC, display, printer, scanner, speakers, wireless transmitter, etc.), video clusters (TV, DVD player, powered speakers, game consoles, etc.), audio clusters (receiver, amplifier, CD players, etc.). Be sure to keep the set-top box and modem on a separate circuit to avoid loss of connection.
  • Buy low-standby products. This sounds like reasonable advice but it's nearly impossible to follow because few products list their standby power use. Most Energy Star endorsed products have lower standby.

Think before you unplug. Remember that most re-chargeable products gradually lose their charge over time. You might be unpleasantly surprised when that rechargeable drill isn't fully charged when you need it.

An aggressive campaign, armed with knowledge about which products draw standby, can cut total standby by as much as a third.