Live Green and Earn Points

Recyclebank

Mythbusters: Do Gadgets Use More Electricity Off Than On?

By Joe Laur |
It’s hard enough to follow all the different things we should be doing to live a green life. We don’t need misinformation to confuse us.

C:\Documents and Settings\User\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\KOP52YYE\MC900437316[1].jpg

It’s hard enough to follow all the different things we should be doing to live a green life. We don’t need misinformation thrown in with all the stuff we need to know or figure out. Lucky for you you’ve got Recyclebank. We never lie, and we are always right. Just kidding. But we are committed to finding out the most accurate data and dispelling myths (like all plastics are bad) that can actually stop us from doing the right thing.

C:\Documents and Settings\User\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\51P0JYV0\MC900444666[1].jpgWe’ve all heard of “energy vampires”. I don’t mean that history professor who sucks all the air out of the room when he lectures. I mean all the gadgets and electronics that draw energy even when turned “off” due to charging up, running indicator lights and keeping equipment in a ready state. This is a real problem that wastes energy and hard earned dollars, and contributes to CO2 waste.

But a rumor is going around that these vampire or phantom loads are greater when the devices are switched off than on. Say it ain’t so, Joe!

It isn’t so. Phantom load is a real problem, but it doesn’t use more juice than operating your equipment. A California study of residential electricity use has determined that 39% of the electricity consumed by small electronic devices (including televisions, set-top boxes, DVD players, and computer equipment) is used while the devices are turned off but operating in standby or phantom load mode. That leaves 61% of the load coming while the devices are being used.

According to a report on Green Building Advisor, in 50 houses studied, the average electricity consumed by the devices was 1,063 kWh per year. 651 kWh was consumed while the devices were turned on. The devices had a “phantom load” —electricity consumed while the devices were not being used — of 412 kWh per year. That’s bad, but it’s not more, folks.

The results of the study contradict the estimates of energy consultants who claim that such devices use more energy when “off” than on. The study was conducted by Ecos Consulting, EPRI Solutions, and RLW Analytics and funded by the California Energy Commission. If you can’t trust them, who can you trust?

So if you’ve been leaving all your stuff on 24/7 because you thought you were saving energy, go back and turn it all off. Then put it all on a switched outlet or a power strip and shut it off. Really off. Because while 39% isn’t more than 61%, according to my math, it’s still way too much.

C:\Documents and Settings\User\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\CGS0FRAC\MC900437575[1].wmf

Share with Your Friends & Family