Did you know your household appliances were consuming electricity even when you had turned them off? Digital displays, remote control capability and other common features that function even when the television, microwave oven, radio or video recorder are turned off now account for around 10% of household electricity use in OECD countries – or the equivalent of a 60-watt light bulb operating continuously in every household.
Overall, such invisible consumption accounts for an estimated 1.5% of total OECD electricity use and is responsible for an estimated 0.6% of carbon dioxide emissions in OECD countries, according to a new book from the IEA, Things That Go Blip in the Night: Standby Power and How to Limit It.
While many OECD countries have launched programmes to reduce standby power consumption in the most used appliances, such as televisions and personal computers, these programmes need to be extended to cover other products, where the amount of energy used in standby mode is often unnecessarily high. Greater use of existing power management technology could reduce total standby energy consumption in some appliances by as much as 75%, the book says.
©OECD Observer No 228, September 2001