Leaving stuff on standby is just burning money

Harvey Jones 30 November -0001

As gadgets multiply in our homes, so do our electricity bills. Plasma TVs, music systems and computer equipment quietly eat electricity, even when you're not actually using them. And that's are only the start. Take a look around your own home, you might be surprised to see how many items display that tell-tale red light, day and night. This may include your TV set-top box, video player, games console, amplifier, broadband router, printer, iPad charger, microwave, mobile phone charger and even the digital clock on your oven.

Adding up Standby Costs

Energy supplier Ecotricity has just published a list of the hungriest household appliances, setting out how much they cost each year to leave on standby. They're more expensive than you think.

  • A wireless router, such as a BT Hub, is top of the list, sucking out £21.92 worth of electricity on average each year. 
  • If you have a laser printer, that will cost another £18.26.
  • If computer accessories are expensive, so are TVs. Leaving a set-top satellite box on standby for a year costs on average £18.26. Nintendo Wii will add another £12.18.
  • An iPad charger also drains £12.18 of electricity a year, while a plug-in air freshener wafts away £4.87 on average.

Remember, this is purely the cost of leaving these gadgets on standby. A large screen TV will consume a lot more electricity when you actually start watching it.

Solving the Standby Crisis

You don't have to be a dedicated techie to run up a large electricity bill in this way. Most households now have these gadgets, and a lot more besides. Few of us bother turning them off when not in use.

I certainly have no plans to turn off my modem every time I stop using my computer, although I might start switching off my printer, now that I know it gobbles £18.92 electricity a year.

I already have a habit of pulling my kids' mobile phone and iPad chargers if they're left in the socket.

You should also consider unplugging items you no longer use, such as an old VHS recorder or microwave. If you now only play music through your computer or iPad docking station, you could detach your old CD player and amplifier. You may only make a tiny saving each time we switch off a gadget, but they do add up over the year.

You can make far bigger cuts to your home energy costs by visiting a price comparison site to see if you can find a cheaper gas and electricity tariff. With the average household utility bill now topping £1,300, the more you can save, the better.

Read more articles by Harvey Jones here