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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How to save $19 billion

In-active devices waste billions of dollars of electricity
TrickleStar TrickleStrip™ 181SNatural Resources Defense Council 
EDITOR'S NOTE: Recently National Grid sent out an offer to RI customers offering an incredible deal - an energy strip like the kind discussed in this article, plus three of the new LED lightbulbs all for $10, free shipping. I took the deal and got the shipment within days. This is the first time I've used the new LED bulbs and they are AMAZING! That deal expired on May 8, but go to to see other deals.

Approximately $19 billion worth of electricity, equal to the  output of 50 large power plants, is devoured annually by U.S. household electronics, appliances, and other equipment when consumers are not actively using them, according to a groundbreaking study released by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report, Home Idle Load: Devices Wasting Huge Amounts of Electricity When Not in Active Use,” found most of the devices either plugged in or hard-wired into America’s homes consume electricity around-the-clock, even when the owners are not using them or think they are turned off. 

The annual cost for this vampire energy drain, which provides little benefit to consumers, ranges from $165 per U.S. household on average to as high as $440 under some utilities’ top-tier rates.

“One reason for such high idle energy levels is that many previously purely mechanical devices have gone digital: Appliances like washers, dryers, and fridges now have displays, electronic controls, and increasingly even Internet connectivity, for example,” says Pierre Delforge, the report’s author and NRDC’s director of high-tech sector energy efficiency. “In many cases, they are using far more electricity than necessary.” 

These always-on but inactive devices account for nearly 23 percent, on average, of the electricity consumption of homes in California – where electricity usage tends to be lower overall due in part to decades of energy efficiency success – but the share will vary in other states, depending on total electricity use. However, the amount of inactive consumption by household devices can be applied nationally as Americans tend to buy the same appliances everywhere.

The NRDC study is the first large-scale analysis of idle load use, combining usage data from electric utility smart meters in 70,000 northern California residences with field measurements concentrating on idle loads (an average of 65 devices were found in NRDC’s onsite audit). Idle consumption includes devices in off or “standby” mode but still drawing power (such as furnaces and garage door openers); in “sleep mode” ready to power up quickly (like game consoles); and left fully on but inactive (computers).  

“Consumers can take such steps to reduce their idle load as using timers, smart power strips, and changing settings on their devices, and manufacturers need to do their part by designing products to minimize energy waste, but ultimately policies like energy efficiency utility programs and standards are needed,” Delforge notes. “Reducing always-on consumption is a low-hanging fruit opportunity to cut climate-warming pollution.”

Continue reading at the Natural Resource Defense Council.