Monday, July 22, 2013

What You Don't Know Could Cost You

Do you switch off the lights when you leave the room? Do you shut off the TV and power down the computer when it's not being used? You are not alone; millions of Americans have turned to these simple energy-saving measures, whether it is to cut back on their utility bills or to appease their ecological conscience. Sometimes flipping off the switch, however, could still be costing you.

Many home appliances have standby or “sleep” modes that still draw power if they are plugged into an outlet, even when turned off. The U.S. EPA refers to this current as “standby power” and “vampire energy,” as it draws power from your home when the devices are turned off and are not serving any function. The amount of energy that is drawn from devices in standby mode is significant; the U.S. EPA estimates that standby power accounts for “more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs,” accounting for 5-10% of residential and 10-15% of total commercial energy consumption! Refer to the chart below for a list of common home and office devices and the corresponding standby power consumption:
Annual Standby Power Consumption (kWh)
Computer desktop
Computer monitor
Fax Machine

So how can you combat this problem?

Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products; these products draw minimal amounts of standby power. Unplug appliances and chargers when you are not using them. If you have several appliances near each other, plug them into a central power strip; therefore, you only need to switch off the power strip to effectively cut power to every attached device. For devices and outlets that are not easily accessible, it may be more practical to purchase “smart strip” power strips; these power strips sense when a device is either turned off or switched to standby mode and cuts all power to that specific device. 

Here at HI Chicago, we are mitigating our energy consumption by integrating smart strips into the offices and work areas. This will increase our energy efficiency by reducing the amount of energy drawn from office equipment, such as computers, printers and fax machines, when they are not in use. Find out more about standby power and what you can do by clicking on the U.S. EPA links below!


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