Monday, September 18, 2006

Standby For Action

I've been doing more research about the standby issue. According to the Times, devices on standby use 8 per cent of all domestic electricity, and the government is planning to outlaw standby switches on televisions and video and DVD players. An American source explained that:

This is mainly because appliance manufacturers have no reason to design their products with efficiency in mind -- after all, they don't pay your electricity bill!
The IEA states that devices on standby account for 1% of global carbon emissions. This isn't very much, but it is growing. It is also unnecessary and avoidable. They go to state that:

New technologies have emerged making it possible to reduce standby power by as much as 90%while maintaining all features that customers want. The most important innovations are higher efficiency power supplies and improved circuitry designs.
I haven't been able to get a definitive answer about whether it is currently better for consumers to switch off devices in standby thus saving electricity, or whether it is better to leave them in standby thus extending the life of the appliance (personally I am switching off as many devices as possible). However I have become convinced that consumers should put pressure on manufacturers to use more efficient standby designs, or not use them at all. In 2005 WWF Switzerland launched a petition to stop the energy waste caused by standby functions of electric appliances. The petition aims at putting pressure on producers and retailers to make products more energy efficient. There is not an equivalent petition for the UK, but the WWF do have a campaign to stop climate change. Why not take 90 seconds and sign the petition now?

(Today's picture is of the family at the Ladybower reservoir yesterday)

7 comments:

Mel's sister Steph said...

To put a spanner in the works, I rang LG last week and told them I'd been looking into turning off appliances at the wall rather than on standby and specifically asked if they thought this would shorten the life of appliances they currently sold, specifically plasma tellys. The chap wrote down the details & stuck mo on hold for a few mins while he spoke to the technical support dept. The answer was 'please don't turn them off at the wall. Always use the standby as it will shorten the life of the applinace'.

When I cross examined my electronics engineer hubby he said the reason is that modern switch mode power supplies on new appliances work differently to the old capaciter type power supplies. Which is why loads of older tellys and video players which use the older type of power supply can be switched on & off many times a day & won't suffer.

I now want to check into the warranty of my LG plasma telly & see if there's anything in it, or the manual, about using standby as opposed to turning it off at the mains.

Oh & an interview with the Environment Minister on the radio the other day was discussing the cost to the electronics industry about altering appliances so they didn't have a standby mode.

ps I wish I lived in a simpler world.

Melanie Rimmer said...

That's the point, Steph. Manufacturers put substandard components in their devices then cover themselves by saying "Just leave it on standby so it doesn't blow up". But we're left to pick up the tab for all the power they consume (in fact I suspect the devices probably can withstand being switched off and the manufacturers are simply covering themselves, like all the clothes with labels saying "dry clean only". Yeah. Right).

My conclusion is to tell them where to get off. Tell them you'd rather pay a little more for the gadget in the first place so it is built to withstand being switched off and on, saving you money in the long run (and saving the planet as well).

If the manufacturers won't listen to their customers, write to your MP and ask that the government bans standby buttons. Then the manufacturers will have to make devices that can be switched off.

I wish it was easier too. I thought at the start of the month that we could just switch off our standby devices and save 10% on our electricity bills, no strings attached. As easy as the kettle challenge. I'm not giving up just because it's a little more tricky than that.

Stonehead said...

The other problem with turning appliances off at the wall is that some, like TVs, have their memories erased and have to be retuned each time you turn it on.
Our TV must use a capacitor or battery for retaining the memory for up to five minutes when the power goes off, but after that all the programming is gone.
We also have a Sky box - due to appalling terrestrial reception and no cable. The problem with turning it off at the wall is that it not only has to re-establish the satellite link and not only do we have to restore all our settings, but it also dials out on the phone line.
Still, the TV has now died so that's several problems sorted at once! :)

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