Power down properly

092: Power off properly

Cost of taking action: £/$/€ SAVES MONEY

A classic “collective action” suggestion

Around the world there are literally billions of electrical devices that are running 24/7, often in standby mode. Each piece of equipment that is on standby is a tiny little consumer of energy and a tiny producer of carbon emissions, but added up they contribute a huge amount.

So for this action we’d like you to look around your house and office and think about what really needs to be left switched on, and get into the habit of turning things off properly, especially at night. In many cases, there really isn’t any justification for keeping things on standby for hours and hours.

Cutting energy use at home is a double win too – you will be reducing your carbon footprint and saving money.

What does standby really mean?

Standby mode means your device isn’t switched on but is still receiving power from your electricity socket to allow it to continue running at a low level. The obvious example is your television – if it is switched off via its remote, it’s still drawing power from the electricity socket to allow it to respond to signals from the remote control. Or if you put your computer into sleep mode – it’s running on less energy but still requires power to maintain your current session and bring it back quickly when you wake it up.

So should I turn plugs off at the wall?

Yes, it’s usually best to switch a plug off at the wall when your device isn’t in use (some exceptions are listed below).

Does leaving an empty plug socket switched on use electricity?

No! No electrical current will flow through it so you don’t have to worry about turning every socket in the house off if there are no devices plugged in. If a device is plugged in and the socket is switched on, it will use electricity whilst in standby mode. In this case, to save energy you should turn the device off at the socket.

How much electricity does (say) a TV use in standby?

The amount of energy consumed by devices on standby is difficult to measure and often under 1 watt in many circumstances. Newer regulations limit the amount of energy a device can consume in standby but older devices can consume 10 watts or more.

However, if you have multiple devices left on standby, this electricity consumption can really add up.

How much does it cost?

According to Energy Saving Trust, it’s estimated that an average household spends £30 per year leaving devices on standby, and 98% of households with a TV or TVs leave at least one on standby all the time. Similar costs will be felt in other countries.

Does turning a device off at the socket damage it?

If you turn your device to standby first, and then power it off completely, no damage can be done.

Fire risks

Powering off a device completely reduces the risks of fire.

What devices should be turned off at the wall when not in use / overnight?

  • TV’s
  • DVD players
  • TV smart boxes (unless being used for recording)
  • Stereos
  • Games consoles (for example, the Xbox Series X uses a massive 29 watts in ‘standby’ mode)
  • Mobile phone chargers
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Laptop and desktop computers
  • Computer monitors
  • Shredders
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Printers

What devices should be left on?

  • Fridges and freezers
  • A TV box being used for recording
  • Smart TVs should be left on occasionally to allow software updates
  • Broadband routers and wireless relays
  • Clocks

What about standby saver devices?

These can help; remote control standby savers are designed to switch off multiple plugs at once. Or a simple extension lead or power strip also lets you turn off multiple gadgets at once. It is wise to use a power strip with surge protection for delicate electronic equipment. Otherwise, mains spikes in electricity could damage all connected devices. Energy (and cash) savings will depend on the number of devices you have, how good you are about remembering to switch off plugs, and the age of your appliances.

Why is this important?

  • Collectively, this action could save a lot of energy and carbon, simply because we operate so many devices in this way
  • This action can contribute to our fight against climate change
  • Introducing this habit to our children will educate them about the environment and about collective action
  • It can contribute to a broader awareness of the importance of energy saving actions … including, for example, the other classic about turning off the lights in an empty room!

Take action

So please, take a little time to power down properly, you know it makes sense!

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