Standby power- the vampire in your home

8 February 2017

We all love a tip that can save you money and now there’s one small change you can make that can lower your energy usage too.

It all starts with a flick of a switch

Vampire power or phantom load is working behind the scenes to consume energy even when your appliances are turned off.  So what is it? Also known as Standby power, it refers to the energy drawn down by an appliance when it’s not in use.

The impact of standby power functions on household bills cost Australian consumers a combined $860 million annually. By turning off appliances at the wall, you can save up to $100 per year. 



Despite decreasing 68 per cent in the past decade, standby power is responsible for 5.9 per cent of Australia’s total residential electricity consumption. 

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According to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, standby power consumption costs the average household almost $100 per year.

5 9 percent

Despite decreasing 68 per cent in the past decade, standby power is responsible for 5.9 per cent of Australia’s total residential electricity consumption.

2 6m

In addition to the standby cost, these hungry devices are also responsible for almost 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.


Which appliances drain the most power in your home?

According to the International Energy Agency there are 14 billion online electronic devices globally, with this figure expected to reach 100 billion by 2030. A 2016 comparison from consumer organisation Choice found that standby power consumption of these devices varies greatly. Here are some examples of everyday products ranging in standby cost:

PRODUCT  LOWEST STANDBY COST - per quarter HIGHEST STANDBY COST - per quarter HIGHEST STANDBY COST - annually

Multifunction printer

$0.00

$29.56

$118.24

Wireless VOIP router

$2.55

$6.35

$25.40

Speaker docks

$0.15

$4.75

$19.00

Washing machine

$0.00

$1.90

$7.60

Microwave oven

$0.23

$1.18

$4.72

Clothes dryer 

$0.07

$0.27

$1.72

Air con – large

$0.01

$0.27

$1.08

Home theatre system

$0.01

$0.06

$0.23

TVs - 100-115cm

$0.01

$0.01

$0.05

Blu-Ray players

$0.00

$0.01

$0.05

As you can see, while the quarterly usage costs are not incredibly high, they do add up. It pays to shop around and check the star-rating of your appliances. 

Building efficiency into products

Manufacturers are working to provide consumers with more choice. As a result of the star-rating Equipment Energy Efficiency program, power consumption is now built into products, improving overall energy use.

Director of Energy Efficient Strategies Lloyd Harrington explained this using a TV with 18 hours of standby as an example. "Most new televisions now have almost zero standby, because standby is now included in the [star-rating] label and so manufacturers get a reward if they improve that," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

In addition to the actual devices, there are a number of standby power controllers which automatically reduce the amount of time these devices spend in standby mode and switch appliances off when not in use.



Top 5 tips to manage your standby power
 
  1. Switch off your appliances at the wall where possible.

  2. Install a standby power controller.  Check the energy rating of new appliances to see if standby power consumption is included.

  3. Buy everyday-use appliances such as fridges based on lowest running costs and best performance

  4. Check your energy-rating. Even though a device might have a low standby power cost, the overall energy efficiency when it’s turned on should also be taken into account.

  5. Take the surprise out of bills by checking out Origin's Predictable Plan. With Predictable Plan, you can choose to pay your instalments fortnightly or monthly and even sync payments to the day you get paid. Payments are taken via direct debit, meaning you'll never need to worry about paying your bill on time.

Check out more energy saving tips here.

Switch off and save: Did you know that standby power still costs you money?

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