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How to detect stand-by and off-mode power consumption?

Countering leaking electricity consumption is made to occur by way of a logical step-by-step plan. 

  • Everything starts with locating the stand-by consumers. A good way of doing this is by using an energy meter. Simply set up the device between the appliance and the wall socket and it will tell you exactly how much power the appliance uses when it is on stand-by.
  • Once you have an accurate picture of the biggest stand-by and off-mode power consumers, the next step is to find the best and most user-friendly way of preventing the leaking electricity consumption. This could be anything from simply unplugging the appliance, to using a power strip with its own dedicated on/off switch, up to more ingenious switching devices.

Top 5 in leaking electricity consumption

A lot of electrical appliances continue to consume power even when you are not using them. Examples include the modem, the TV set which a lot of us set to stand-by for the sake of convenience, chargers for smartphones or electrical toothbrushes that are simply left in the wall socket for the same reason.

This needless power consumption is referred to as leaking electricity consumption or stand-by consumption. In a lot of cases we are talking about low-level consumption. Yet when you've got a few stand-by and off-mode power consumers around the house, your total consumption can quickly mount up. Every Watt lost in leaking electricity consumption per hour costs you 2 euros per year. So there's a lot of potential to save on electricity.

If you are off to locate the stand-by and off-mode power consumers around your home, be sure to first check the following appliances. They make up the top 5 of the biggest stand-by and off-mode power consumers:

Computer with peripherals 33 euros per year
TV set with set-top box or DVD player 15 euros per year
Coffee machine 6 euros per year
Hifi system  euros per year
Oven with digital clock 4 euros per year

Just this top 5 represents a total consumption of 64 euros per year.

Locating leaking electricity consumption

How to detect leaking electricity consumption? Simple, by using an energy meter. This small device will set you back as little as 10 to 15 euros.

Simply plug it into the wall socket and then connect the appliance you want to meter. The energy meter will show the consumption in real time. In addition, it will give you the appliance's total power consumption over the measured time period.

It's a good idea to meter the appliance throughout the night for instance, when it's on stand-by. Then multiply the leaking power consumption by 365 and again by the electricity rate and you know exactly how much the stand-by consumption of that particular appliance costs you on an annual basis. Alongside the top 5, it's also worth testing the adapters of a number of appliances.

Preventing leaking electricity consumption

Once you've located the stand-by and off-mode power consumers, the next step is to put a stop to their pointless consumption of electricity. You can do so by adopting any one of several methods:

  • Unplug the appliance from the wall socket. This is a good idea especially for appliances you are not using over longer periods of time or for the adapters you use to charge mobile appliances.
  • Use a power strip with its own dedicated on/off switch for your computer and all its peripherals. Once the computer has been switched off, one press of the button will put a stop to the number 1 stand-by and off-mode power consumer.
  • Use a stand-by killer for your TV set and its peripherals. These switches completely interrupt the electrical current when you switch the appliances to stand-by using your remote control. However, do watch out with set-top boxes or videorecorders. If you have programmed them to record TV programmes, they will need a constant supply of electrical current to do the recording.
  • A stand-by killer with a timer. Very practical for charging smartphones or electrical toothbrushes. Once the preset time has lapsed, the device completely cuts the power supply.
  • Do not put the switch of halogen lamps between the transformer and the lamps, but ahead of the transformer. This will prevent the transformer from continuing to draw current when the lamps are off.
  • Replace adapters that use a lot of electrical power with more energy-efficient models.

(See also: 'How much energy do my household appliances use?' & 'How can I calculate the consumption of an electrical appliance?')

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