Berkeley Lab

Archives: News

Intelligent Living in Europe

September 12, 2000
Europe’s first commercially-available intelligent house is now ready for family of four. All intelligent features in the house are networked together and communicate with residents via the Electrolux Screen fridge. For more info and pictures of the home, see the recent press release.

Standby in Japan

August 31, 2000
A Japanese study finds standby is 9.4% of Japanese residential electricity use. A survey of 933 Japanese homes found that the average home has 45W of standby power consumption, corresponding to about 400 kWh/year. The largest sources were video decks, controls for gas heaters, audio components, and fax machines. Various strategies were investigated to reduce standby. Roughly 25% could be saved simply by switching off devices when not in use (presumably switching off at the device rather than with remote control). Additional information is available in Japanese.

1-Watt in Australia

August 2000
The Australia New Zealand Minerals and Energy Council Standing Committee of Officials (ANZMEC SCO) have agreed that Australia should participate in the International Energy Agency’s One Watt Program, which seeks to reduce the standby power consumption of all domestic appliances to below one watt per device. In addition, a comprehensive response to the issue of standby power consumption has been developed by the National Appliance and Equipment Energy Efficiency Committee (NAEEEC) in Australia. The program involves:

  • Extension of the voluntary ENERGY STAR scheme to home electronics
  • Incorporation of standby power consumption into the Energy Rating label scheme for whitegoods
  • consumer education
  • further research
  • international collaboration

NAEEEC is not currently proposing any mandatory schemes for the reduction of standby power. For more information on standby policy in Australia, visit the Standby Power website of the Australian Department of Climate Change.

EPA Announces Draft ENERGY STAR Set-top Levels

December 1999
The US EPA recently announced draft ENERGY STAR standby power limits for set-top boxes. Set-tops were divided into two categories with different power goals. Digital cable boxes, DBS systems, and digital video recorders fall into the high-power category at 8 Watts, while the remaining devices, including analog cable boxes, digital converters, etc. fall into a low-power category at 1 Watt. This is a large reduction from existing levels — many analog and digital boxes presently consume more than 15 Watts — but it is technically achievable with modest redesign and selection of efficient components. Note that the EPA expects to issue “Tier 2” levels, which will go into effect at a later date.

2nd International Workshop on Standby Power

January 17-18, 2000
The European Commission will host the second workshop on reducing standby power use at their headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The meeting will bring together appliance manufacturers, component suppliers, government officials, researchers, and other concerned groups. For a copy of the meeting agenda (PDF version).

Defining Standby Power

November 17-18, 1999
An IEA task force met in Washington D.C. to establish a consensus definition of standby power. This group, consisting of representatives of manufacturers, governments, and research organizations agreed that it was not their role to establish a technically rigorous definition of standby power because this was the responsibility of the IEC and other standardization bodies. However,the group sought a working definition that would permit development of consistent estimates of global standby and that would assist policy-makers when considering strategies to reduce standby. A consensus definition was reached.

IEC creates working group to examine standby power

October 29, 1999
The International Electrotechnical Commission TC59, “Performance of Household Appliances”, considered the matter of standby power use at its October meeting in Kyoto, Japan. TC59 created a working group to examine technical issues associated with the measurement of standby power. This would be a generally applicable measurement method and no limits on allowable standby would be set. It would deal with test conditions, methodologies, instrumentation and accuracy. TC59’s intent is to establish a horizontal test standard applicable to a whole range of products. The initial task will be to collect general information on programs that require such data on standby. For further information about TC59, please visit the IEC website. For further information about the working group on standby, please see the IEC’s committee draft on the safety and energy efficiency of IT equipment.

APEC Meets to Discuss Standby Losses

November 4-5, 1999
The APEC Experts’ Group on Energy Efficiency and Conservation (EGEEC) discussed the issue of standby losses at a meeting in Canberra, Australia. A presentation by New Zealand proposed that the EGEEC should:

  • Recognize the potential for significant standby loss reduction
  • Agree that the appropriate approach is via voluntary agreements between governments and manufacturers to reduce losses to 1 watt
  • Consider the issues for their own economies and present proposals at the next annual meeting
  • Consider submitting a project proposal for a Forum in 2001

This was generally agreed to, subject to further consideration within individual APEC member economies.

IEA Task Force to Meet in Washington D.C.

November 17-18, 1999
After a longer than expected email discussion on the subject, the IEA has scheduled a meeting to decide once and for all what “standby power” encompasses — and then give it a name that everyone can live with. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) has complained that the term “leaking electricity” implies a dangerous situation, and also objects to terms that imply “waste” or “losses” because some standby power use actually provides a service to the user. On the definition front, there is disagreement about whether this phenomenon occurs only when primary functions are not being performed or only when appliances are in a certain mode (or modes), and just how to define those functions and modes in a way that covers all appliances.

IEA Task Force to Research Standby Losses

April, 1999
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is organizing an international task force to research standby power consumption. Currently,three groups are being formed to address three different topics:

  • Definitions and Terminology
  • CO2 Emissions Savings Potential
  • Policy Options

Major Electronics Manufacturers Pledge to Reduce Standby Losses

March, 1999
Sony, Matsushita and others set voluntary standby targets for audio and video products.

Electronic Design Network Magazine Reports on How to Design Low Standby Loss Appliances

February 4, 1999
Technical editor says it’s “not going to be too difficult” to meet a 1-watt limit.

The Paris Conference, January 18-19

February, 1999
Recap of the first international workshop on reducing standby losses.

Leaking Set-top Boxes

February, 1999
Recent measurements show that typical cable boxes, Internet terminals, and satellite receivers draw between 10 and 15 watts whether they are on or off. Here are some preliminary results:

Average On (W) 12.4 13.8 12.9 8.8
Average Off (W) 11.4 10.6 12.3 1.0

(More info)

HDTV receivers use 16 watts — 24 hours per day!

January, 1999
Read more about HDTV standby losses and its expected effect on the British power system.

First Workshop on Reducing Standby Losses

January 18-19, 1999
The International Energy Agency (IEA) hosted the first workshop on reducing standby losses in appliances at the IEA headquarters in Paris, France. The meeting brought together appliance manufacturers, component suppliers,government officials, researchers, and other concerned groups.

Leaky Air Conditioners

October, 1998
About half of all new models of high-end room air conditioners in the US are now equipped with remote controls (and therefore will have standby losses). The trend appears to be accelerating and is expected to spread to cheaper models. (Source: Dealerscope Consumer Electronics Marketplace, October 1998)

JVC Reduces Standby Power Consumption of TVs, VCRs

November, 1998
In Spring of this year, the Nikkei English News (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. 03-19-98) reported that Victor Co. of Japan Ltd. (JVC) would take the lead in developing energy-efficient home electronics by reducing the standby power consumption of its wide-screen TVs to 0.7 W. In addition, the company planned to redesign the memory and time display circuits in its VCRs to reduce standby power consumption by 30-40%, to 2-3 watts. Be on the lookout for these and other standby-efficient appliances, coming soon to a store near you.

DVDs and Audio Equipment Go 1-Watt

September 1998
The latest ENERGY STAR© levels for audio equipment and Digital VideoDisks (DVDs) have been finalized. Both have a Phase 1 level and then drop to 1-watt after four years. Here are the numbers:

  Phase 1 (-2002) Phase 2 (2002-)
Audio equipment, including receivers, boom boxes, etc. 2 watts 1 watt
DVDs 3 watts 1 watt

These ENERGY STAR© levels will result in significant energy savings because audio equipment have some of the highest standby losses found by researchers at Berkeley Lab and elsewhere. Current mini-audio systems use standby electricity at anywhere from one to over 20 watts (the median is about 9 watts). Some units were found to use nearly as much power when switched “off” as when switched on. Current DVDs typically consume about 4 watts on average. Establishing a low standby loss for DVDs is important because electronics manufacturers expect that DVDs will be the next mass-selling appliance.

The material found on this page is considered archival. Please visit for the most recent information about Standby Power.