Things parents should know about standby power

As paydaycreeps closer we all start to think about the sales that crop up, and the temptation to grab a bargain is too much for many. And while deal hunting may be a bore to many, the sales that come with it are always worth exploring.

Unbeknown to most parents, there’s usually at least one vampire lingering secretly in the dark of our baby’s safe place.

But don’t fear; they can’t harm your child… only your wallet.

Vampire power or phantom load (also known as standby power), is the energy being used when your appliances are turned off, but still plugged in. And while it almost sounds like some weird energy industry ghost story – the facts speak for themselves.

Despite decreasing 68 per cent in the past decade, standby power is responsible for 5.9 per cent of Australia’s total residential electricity use. To put that into perspective – standby power costs Australians almost $100 per household or $860 million yearly, according to the Department of Industry Innovation and Science.

To break it down even further, according to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, standby power consumption costs the average household almost $100 per year. While this may not sound like a lot to many people, when you consider that this could buy around 288 infant nappies – it’s a cost worth considering.

And, let’s face it, when it comes to consideration, parents-to-be are experts. Whether preparing to welcome home a new addition for the first time … or for those super-parents out there preparing for that moment for the eighth time, there are many things to consider.This usually includes at least a quick glance at the family budget.

However, parents often overlook the household electricity bill when planning for the financial impact of a baby. We all consider the cost of nappies and wipes, creams and food. But babies often bring with them a load of their own – a phantom load.

Standby power is usually overlooked in the preparation of the baby’s room. When it comes to the arrival of a little one we all do our best to prepare their room so that when we bring them home, they’re greeted with a beautiful, warm, friendly, happy and functional room.

This means purchasing a good crib and change table; a feeding chair and a bookcase; a lamp (for those late night feeds and cuddles); a baby monitor; a night light and potentially a television (again … for those late night feeds or cuddles which inevitable turn into a Netflix marathon while baby sleeps soundly on your chest).

And, while our intentions are always in the right place, it’s often the baby’s room that sneakily sucks up our power while we’re busy changing nappies; burping and soothing – or reading that Dr Seuss book for the umpteenth time (we get it, you can rhyme, Dr Seuss).

These naughty little vampires take all your budgeting efforts and sneakily slip them into the nappy bin when you’re not looking. So, let’s expose them and look at some steps you can take to reduce their efforts and shoo them away each night (or in some cases, for good).

5 ways to manage standby power

1. Switch off at the wall

This is the easiest solution to make sure no power is being used when it shouldn’t be. If it’s not used overnight, turn it off at the wall. 

2. Use batteries where possible

This is for those who don’t trust themselves to remember to turn off appliances at the wall each night and let me start by saying what you’re probably thinking: yes, batteries are expensive and not great for the environment. However, there are some areas of your baby’s room where batteries can be used instead of electricity. For example: a battery-operated nightlight. If your child is anything like mine, we only need the nightlight on until she falls asleep. So her battery-operated nightlight has lasted forever. Important to say here to be very careful of any battery-operated appliance and ensure children cannot access the batteries (most children’s toys or appliances will have a safety screw which you have to undo to access the battery).

3. Question the need for devices

Is there any chance your baby might sleep without the electronic star-projector? It’s worth a try because if it works, you can simply store it away for when they are a little bit older and may find it harder to fall asleep unassisted. If you have an older child, ask yourself if you still leave a lamp on in their room simply out of habit? It’s worth trying an alternative to see if your little one is ready to go without a nightlight or music when they fall asleep. 

4. LED, all the way

This one is self explanatory. LED light bulbs are better for you; your bill and the environment. Just remember to switch them off when not using them.

5. Watch your washing

The washing machine is one of the naughtiest vampires. It may not be directly in your baby’s room, but your baby will make sure you frequent the washing room more than ever – so make sure to switch it off after every use.

Now, if you’re still reading but still aren’t concerned with the cost associated with standby power, consider the impact to the environment. In addition to the standby cost, these hungry devices are also responsible for almost 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. 

If the cost to your hip pocket doesn’t motivate you to go on a vampire hunt, hopefully the impact these little sneaks have on your children’s future world does.

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