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Standby power is getting more press lately, and a few companies out there want to sell you something to save you money — strange, they want you to give your money to them instead.

BUT! Fellow Toolmongers! Today for you we have something fan-tastic, practically for free, something that you can use, something that if you had to pay for it you would give real money for it!

Nah, really I just want to point out that putting your electronics on switches, and turning them off, is the easiest solution. But these resources may help you if you’re really into convenience, or measuring your specific situation.

As usual, Wikipedia provides some interesting information, including the fact that the government got on the bandwagon in 2001. You know it’s bad if the government is ahead of you in saving money! At least they’ve compiled lists of low-standby-power appliances, in case you want to take it into consideration when you go shopping.

Surge Protector With Remote [Belkin]
Standby Power [Wikipedia]
Appliance Database [LBL.gov]
Standby Power [Energy Star]


9 Responses to Please Don’t Standby

  1. I may be a little selfish, but saving a few dollars a year by making life much more inconvenient or by spending tens of dollars just doesn’t make sense in my book. Most products I own don’t burn that many Watts in standby.

    But, forget stand-by, what really makes me mad are companies that don’t have separate remote codes for on and off. For instance I pay $22 a year just to keep my amplifier on in my home theater, because I can’t get it to turn on and off in sequence with the other peripherals with my programmable remote.

    I could either make things nice and automated so even guests can use the system or leave 10 step instructions on how to watch TV and still get calls every time.

    The bummer is that $22 a year is just to little to justify doing something about it and enough to bother the hell out of me.

  2. James says:

    I’m with Benjamen on this one. I really don’t want to save $10-$20 a year and deal with the inconvenience this causes.

    And I really don’t understand why the electric companies aren’t stepping up and complaining about everyone fearmongering the states into believing that we need new light bulbs, we need to unplug devices..blah blah blah….all of which take away from their revenue and profit.

    And check this out, totally off topic, but because oil prices went so high, and people stopped driving, now there isn’t enough petro being burned and taxed and there are government budget deficiencies. People plan horribly and follow the latest fads like sheep.

    So as you can tell, I don’t believe that we are causing global warming I think it is happening naturally like on all the other planets. I don’t believe that we only have 10 years or the entire Earth is going to look like my front yard…I live in Texas and it hasn’t rained in years…or so it seems.

    I say drill here, drill now and pay less. Use as much electricity that you can afford and live within your means. Lastly, stay out of everyone elses business and let people live their lives without criticism.

  3. Maureen says:

    Not to mention that those new light bulbs are very dangerous when they break, because of their chemical composition. And that NONE of them are made in America. You’re shipping your money overseas for something that really doesn’t save you *that* much.

    I’m definitely with James. Don’t follow the latest fad, stop and think. That goes for everything–the election, your decisions to buy/sell a house, your decision as to what to drive, and (most importantly, of course) what tools you buy.

  4. rob says:

    well not sure you know this find me many light bulbs that are made in north america most are made in china or europe

    and I have been trying to cut my power consuption down all year only to find that I have used 45% more this year than last year go figure

  5. Chris says:

    Maureen: horse hockey. The amount of mercury in even an eight-foot fluorescent bulb is so small as to be insignificant unless you were to drill a tiny hole in the bulb and intentionally inhale all the vapour.

    The real danger of fluorescent bulbs is in throwing them in a landfill, but pretty much every major DIY store has a recycling program in place for them now.

    Anyone who thinks global warming is a “natural” phenomenon needs to have his or her head examined. It’s quite clear that humans are consuming the planet’s resources at a totally unsustainable rate, and there is AMPLE scientific evidence that we’re making the Earth hotter. (Here’s a hint: Fox News doesn’t count as scientific evidence.)


  6. Zathrus says:

    what really makes me mad are companies that don’t have separate remote codes for on and off

    Have you checked Remote Central? They have a lot of discrete codes for stuff that doesn’t have the codes on the standard remote.

    But, yeah, I find the idea of saving a few dollars a year to turn off “vampires” ridiculous. I’m all for the manufacturers making them use less standby power, but cutting the power off entirely is unreasonable IMO.

    I really don’t understand why the electric companies aren’t stepping up and complaining about everyone fearmongering

    Because, frankly, the power companies would like to sell as little of their power to residences as possible. In fact, if they didn’t have to by law, they probably wouldn’t. They break even, at best, for residential customers. The real money is in selling excess power to other regional power companies and to commercial users. They may charge you $.10/kWh, but they can charge 5x that to another power company, or 3x that to a commercial user. The more power residences use, the less they have to sell elsewhere. Worse yet, they may have to build another power plant, and it takes decades to recoup those costs.

    Really, you don’t think gas and electric companies routinely offer big rebates on buying a new furnace/water heater/etc out of the goodness of their heart, do you? Those rebates are in their own interest, and they’re quite certain that it’s a money making proposition to offer them.

    it is happening naturally like on all the other planets

    It is not happening on “all the other planets”, and it’s proven that the Sun’s thermal output has not increased significantly in the past two decades. We have satellite data showing that. If you want to start babbling about Mars’ ice caps melting, it’s called a Milankovitch cycle, and we can prove that Mars is undergoing one now (and no, we are not).

    I say drill here, drill now and pay less

    Go ahead and drill now, but it won’t make a single drop of oil or gas available for another decade or two. It’s not going to make you “pay less” anytime soon. But I’ll agree that putting it off continuously doesn’t make much sense either.

    Not to mention that those new light bulbs are very dangerous when they break

    Not really. That’s scare mongering. The amount of mercury used in a single bulb is more than offset by the amount of mercury that isn’t pumped into the atmosphere by coal or oil fired plants over the lifetime of the bulb. Yes, you can dither about local vs widespread effects, but if you don’t lick the bulb shards and use some common sense, then it’s really not a big deal.

    Note that only the Pacific NW gets virtually all of its power from clean sources (hydro); everywhere else in the US is very heavily dependent on fossil fuels for power generation.

  7. George says:

    The trick to these types of savings is making them automatic and painless. I have a single switched outlet for my home theater gear (which I generally only watch on weekends), so it’s easy to turn it all on when I need it. Plus, it helps protect it from surges during our summer thunderstorms.

    I also have a small home automation system (X10 based) tied to my home alarm system. When the alarm is armed, the automation system turns off several X10 appliance modules that control amplifiers, receivers, DVD players, etc. that don’t need to be on when no one is home. When the alarm is disarmed, the modules come back on. No hassles, very little upfront cost, and decreased power usage – that’s a trifecta.

  8. Zathrus,
    Thanks for the link, I haven’t run into that site before — or at least don’t remember doing so, but I’ve tried every code in the IR protocol my amp uses and there’s no separate code for on or off.

    On the subject of CFL light bulbs:
    I’ve tired to recycle fluorescent tubes and CFL’s in my area and have had no luck, so they’ve gone in the trash. I tried — more people are going to throw them away then recycle them, so yes you have to worry about them getting into landfills.

    Have you taken a CFL apart? There’s a good bit of plastic, a printed circuit board with a bunch of components. Theres’ a lot more material both by volume and weight too. What about the energy in maufacturing? since their heavier what about the added diesel used to get them to the store?

    All in all I am a fan of CFL’s they output a lot less heat — it’s a amazing how a fixture with a few incandescents can heat a room — and I have noticed a decrease in my utility bill since I switched every bulb I could. I can’t wait for LED bulbs to be more reasonably priced though.

    On oil,
    Don’t forget about refineries. You can drill all you want, but if don’t have the refinery capacity to refine the crude into usable fuel what’s the point? Last I heard we were running all of our refineries at near capacity.

  9. Zaw says:

    I have replaced more CFL then regular light bulbs in my life!!

    CFL have too much complication to be more reliable.

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