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The True Cost of Standby Power

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the 2-bucks-a-month dept.


Luther19 writes, "How much do all of our computers and electronic devices sitting in standby mode cost us? The author of the article concludes that he could save $24.44 per year by switching out wasteful power supplies. The article also touches on a global initiative to cut down on standby power, called '1-Watt': 'The idea has been promoted by the IEA, which first developed an international 1-Watt plan back in 1999. Countries like Australia and Korea have signed on officially, while countries like the US require 1-Watt in government procurement, which will have ripple effects throughout the economy. The goal of the program is to have standby power usage fall below 1W in all products by 2010.'" It's estimated that in industrialized countries, devices on standby consume on average 4% of the power used.

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1 Watt Post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458325)

Nothing to see here.

Re:1 Watt Post! (4, Funny)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458377)

/. could save some electrons by getting these first post guys off of standby.


siropel (802188) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458535)

Not reading this article would of saved me more than $24/year. Why? Because the time my pc boots every time after it is shut down worths more than $24$ / year

How can America measure in WATTS? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458745)

A watt is one kilogram times a meter squared divided by a second cubed. The second cubed is easy to visualize, but then someone mixed it with stinky French metric units.

I agree with this (3, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458355)

But I don't think people are going to switch out their PSU mid hardware life.
Push these improvements to the manufacturers and make the next generation of devices last longer per watt.
Make them better when they are both on and off.

Also folks, switch off your keyboard indicator lights to save power.

Re:I agree with this (2, Informative)

stecoop (759508) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458445)

I guess when your speaking for people that buy their computers pre-built; which, might get your geek card revoked on /. for not building your own system. When I shop for a power supply, I might try to find the most efficent cost effective PSU. That way, you cut out the middle man giving you the power supply you really didn't want in the first place.

Re:I agree with this (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458549)

If you are needing a new PSU, you will get the most efficient one you can afford, but nobody is going to spend money on a PSU when the one they have is perfectly good.
I'm not handing my geek card in because its all laminated and shiney.

Re:I agree with this (1)

SoCalDissident (953017) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458489)

Not only are people going to not want to do this, but does buying a new power supply realyl save that much power than using an old inefficient one? This might make sense for larger appliences like fridges, but how much power does it take to make a new power supply (not to mention the power used to DESIGN a new, more efficient one). Hard to believe that the brake even point on this is that close that it would actually help. If people realyl cared (which is what would nede to happen for them to even buy new devices), they would just SWITCH OFF the power strips these devices are all plugged into. If you realyl want to solve this problem, design devices like TVs to keep the programming even if turned off. I would hit the power strip off if I didn't have to reprogram the channels every time I plug it back in!

New PC PSU's might be 10-15% more efficient (4, Interesting)

WoTG (610710) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458991)

A cheaper 80+ 250W PSU would cost a little under $40 before taxes. (I think 80+ is the new buzzword for 80% or more efficient PSUs). Older PSUs, say 2+ years, were typically in the 70% efficiency range. There are a bunch of articles at [] and other sites about this sort of thing.

I ran the numbers a while ago for one of the PC's around here. The last time I ran the calculations, it costs around $50/year to power that PC for about 6 hours per day. So the break even for me is somewhere around 5-8 years! So while the power grid would get a bit of a break, financially, I wouldn't.

I still might get a new PSU, but that's more because I have serious doubts about the quality of the power coming out of the current one (a suspicious # of hard drive deaths...) but that's a separate issue.

For new purchases, definitely go for the more efficient PSUs... as far as "upgarding" goes... it's borderline at best, at least for me.

Re:I agree with this (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458611)

This is one of those "problems" that costs a lot more to solve than to just deal with. Who cares if your LCDs are costing you $5 a year to power?

Re:I agree with this (3, Insightful)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458681)

Make electricity more expensive, then people will make a huge effort save power... Take advantage of capitalism.

Re:I agree with this (1, Interesting)

misterpib (924404) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458891)

Right, because look how well that worked for gasoline...

Re:I agree with this (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458879)

Personally, I turn off my computer when I'm not using it. If I shut down from windows I still see the keyboard lights and the mouse laser is still active though - I have to manually use the power switch to turn them off.

Keyboard lights... (1, Troll)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459323)

Hmm, also install a wind generator in your chair, so that whenever you fart, the power can be fed back into the grid...

Simply have the equipment shut off or unplugged (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458375)

Then it will be using 0 watts. Much less than using standby.

Re:Simply have the equipment shut off or unplugged (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458523)

I wonder if, when large flash drives become common internal components to desktops or laptops, this type of issue might go away. The flash memory could hold the state of the user's last log in session. What is it other than that, that requires 'stand-by mode' to start the computer quicker?

Re:Simply have the equipment shut off or unplugged (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459299)

What is it other than that, that requires 'stand-by mode' to start the computer quicker?

You missed the point completely. Congratulations.

ATX PCs are never actually turned off. There is always a trickle of power through the PSU and part of the motherboard, in order to support ATX Soft Power, Wake-On-Lan, Wake-On-Keypress, Wake-From-USB, etc.

Typical CRT monitors are never actually turned off. They keep the tube charged so that you don't have to wait for it to "warm up" when you hit the power switch.

Actually, this problem goes deeper than you thought. Just plugging a wall wart into the wall, when nothing is plugged into it, costs you some power.

To answer your question, however, and not just refute your reasoning: Computers typically have multiple levels of suspend but the most interesting ones are suspend-to-ram and suspend-to-disk. In suspend-to-ram, the CPU does nothing but the memory (and, by extension, the memory refresh controller) are kept active. They maintain the contents of RAM (by refreshing DRAM, as if the computer were on) but aside from the normal standby equipment and any circuitry which must be on if memory is being maintained, the rest of the computer is off. In suspend-to-disk, the contents of any used pages in memory are written to a hibernation file, the state of some of the hardware is stored, and the computer is turned off - meaning only those parts of the system which are always hot (discussed above) are turned on to support WakeOnLan and so on. When you bring the system back up, the contents of the hibernation file are loaded back into memory, the processor state (and driver states) is/are restored, and execution continues more or less where it left off.

Using flash memory or some competitor (like MRAM) you could get the first state without having to keep the memory powered up. Flash memory has a ceiling of about 100,000 writes, but more to the point, it is slow. MRAM doesn't have this problem, but it is currently expensive and does not scale up well.

Instead of Standby (3, Funny)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458381)

This is a serious problem and we need to change, and change now. I propose that instead of "Access Standby" mode we IMMEDIATELY redesign ALL electronic items to have a "Mode Execute Ready" state which uses less power.

Re:Instead of Standby (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458433)

"Mode Execute Ready"

Is this a joke of some sort? I've never heard of that, and it sounds like a pretentious name to boot.

Re:Instead of Standby (2, Informative)

Stoertebeker (1005619) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458511)

You really need to go back and re-read HHGTTG:

Ford flipped the switch which he saw was now marked 'Mode Execute Ready' instead of the now old-fashioned 'Access Standby' which had so long ago replaced the appallingly stone-aged 'Off'.

Re:Instead of Standby (0, Redundant)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458651)

Yeah, it's a joke. Specifically, it's from So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish. That's the fourth book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. It's really not the best book in the series, but you really should read the first one (at least enough of it to know if you like the style of humor or not). It's kind of required reading for Slashdot. From the book:

Ford flipped the switch which he saw was now marked 'Mode Execute Ready' instead of the now old-fashioned 'Access Standby' which had so long ago replaced the appallingly stone-aged 'Off'.

Traditional Power (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458383)

I have recently switched to a steam powered laptop. Nothing like coal and water.


James Watt XXIII

Re:Traditional Power (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458461)

And still cooler than a Macbook Pro! :)

Re:Traditional Power (1)

alx5000 (896642) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458667)

If it's steam powered I doubt it can be that cool...

Woosh! (1)

not-admin (943926) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458905)

That's the sound of a joke going over your head...

Re:Traditional Power (2, Funny)

CreatureComfort (741652) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459039)

You sir, have obviously never used a Macbook Pro. Especially sitting on your lap while you wear shorts.

You bastard. (1)

celardore (844933) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458465)

Nothing like coal and water.

Yeah nice one. Now you're just spewing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
I googled for "coal powered laptop", just out of benign curiosity though, and I found a laptop powered by a jet engine [] . No coal powered laptops though, shenanigans!

Re:You bastard. (3, Funny)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459177)

Yeah nice one. Now you're just spewing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
Unless you and/or your employer signed up for wind generated power, your laptop runs on electricity probably generated by one of these 3 things:
1) A nuclear power plant,
2) a coal fired plant that generates steam that then runs turbines to generate electricity,
3) another power plant with coal replaced by natural gas.

So, in fact, many people actually *do* have a steam powered coal fired laptop. :)

Re:You bastard. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16459245)

Where's the tag when you need it, ey?

Probably not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458389)

Save 5% a year on electricty costs by buying this new 1-Watt certified televistion that costs 10% more to make!

I'll remember that... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458391)

I'm going to get one of these 1 watt supplies so I don't have to pay the big zorkmids to keep the filaments in my Victrola warm for that instant-on effect.

Pareto (5, Insightful)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458399)

The way we engineers do it is by pareto analysis - you try to cut out of the largest portion of your power consumption. I'd like to see what lines up as the numbers one two and three consumers of electricity, and how that compares to the cited 4%, and how much was saved by going to standby mode as it stands today. I'm guessing that there are better places to focus the effort, but perhaps that's just my own bias.

Re:Pareto (1)

Rogue974 (657982) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458513)

Wow, hold on a second are talking about doing something intelligently and analyzing a problem to come up with the solution that will give you the best bang for the buck. We can't be talking about logically solving a problem because these policies come from government bodies and logic and intelligence and legislation rarely go hand in hand! ;) I perfectly agree with you, going after this 4% is probably not the best use of time and resources, need to go after larger items and when those are solved, get down to the small items that are the 4%..of course, that is unless the 4% is one fo the biggest items, but I doubt that is the case.

Re:Pareto (2, Informative)

onion2k (203094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458603)

That's a very sensible approach, but to ignore something that could save 4% of 'unused' power with practically no effort would be idiotic.

Re:Pareto (1)

reed (19777) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458821)

This is a good idea, but then it gets expensive to replace existing stuff, like the whole power supply, or say, your house hot water heater :)

If you can save a few watts here and there for extremely low cost, instead of spending lots to save lots, that might be a better way to go.

Re:Pareto (4, Informative)

boingo82 (932244) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458913)

Cutting out the largest sources isn't always the place to focus your efforts - allow me to draw a really bad analogy here:

Analyzing your budget, you decide you need to cut back. While it appears that cutting the $700 mortgage would be the best way to save money, in actuality you're better off cutting out the $19.99 Netflix subscription to movies you never watch.

If that makes any sense, you'll know what I mean - while cutting the largest consumer of power or money may *seem* like the best place to start, it's often a necessary function which just cannot be cut. However, cutting back on unnecessary waste, even if it's a mere 4%, can be a great investment of effort.

Re:Pareto (2, Interesting)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458993)

Cutting 96% of the 4% standby power is relatively easy to do, much easier than cutting 4% of the other 96%, so guess what??? Its cheaper and more effective to pick the low hanging fruit.

Re:Pareto (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459063)

Buying a new fridge somewhat sooner than you would have otherwise can be a pretty good idea. Especially if the old one had been around for more than 10 years. []

Re:Pareto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16459083)

I'm guessing that there are better places to focus the effort

That may be, but what interests government is the cost of administration (the higher the better) and, of course, who gets to decide exactly where the money goes.

Cost benefit? (5, Insightful)

suparjerk (784861) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458407)

I'm not sure the effort and materials costs associated with replacing a power supply are worth $24 per year...

Not _your_ savings... (1)

PontifexPrimus (576159) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458729)

...but those of the environment. Think how much less we'd pollute if we could close down 4 out of every 100 power plants.

Re:Not _your_ savings... (2, Insightful)

chgros (690878) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458767)

Think how much less we'd pollute if we could close down 4 out of every 100 power plants.
I'm guessing about 4% less. That's still not much.

Re:Not _your_ savings... (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458819)

Every little bit helps. 4% here, 3% here on something else, etc. 4% less polution from power plants could be the equivalent of taking 20 million cars off the road for all we know.

Re:Not _your_ savings... (1)

voidptr (609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458867)

Slightly less than sending all those slightly less efficient but perfectly functioning power supplies to the junkyard + the environmental impact of building new ones?

Re:Cost benefit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458747)

Good point, and I lean in the direction of agreement.

Somebody suggested to me once that the retail cost of an item is likely proportional to the energy it takes to make something and bring it to you. (eg. mining costs, recycling costs, manufuacturing costs, transport costs, etc) I continue to find this idea useful.

In this case, the returns would be over at least 2 years to the consumer. However, the more important point is that the returns could be millions of dollars in national energy savings. For instance, an extra 100kW generating station may be unneeded. Think infinite sums of infinitesimal amounts. It adds up.

True, but that's not the goal. (4, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458855)

You're right, few people are going to bother with replacing power supplies because it's just not worth it economically to replace them.

But, the point is that if the industry had spent just a few dollars (maybe pennies) more in designing the devive, they'd be saving you money and it's be worth the extra costs. Right now most consumers have no idea the amount of money it costs them for these inefficient electronics, so there's no incentive for manufacturers to bother.

Re:Cost benefit? (1)

MasterC (70492) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459007)

I'm not sure the effort and materials costs associated with replacing a power supply are worth $24 per year...

True, but how about when you have to buy a new PSU (new computer/device) or replace your current PSU when it shells out? Then it becomes economical.

Not quite the same thing with incadescent [] vs. CFL [] though. You'd be better off replacing all of them right now because the marginal cost of a regular bulb (~$0.50) is much less than the energy savings of a CFL (~$36.00 YMMV).

Check it yourself (4, Interesting)

ScooterBill (599835) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458421)

You can buy a low cost wattmeter that you plug your equipment into and simply read out the power consumption. I've found that a lot of devices in standby take almost no power. Other devices aren't so frugal. I'd like to see some real statistics on this and something like the energystar ratings you see on refrigerators put on computers.

Re:Check it yourself (5, Informative)

StarfishOne (756076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458621)

Mind you: it's not always a device with an explicit stand-by mode. I once used such a wattmeter on all devices and learned that my 40W lamp with a seemingly #$%#$% cheap transformer was using 25W while "off"!

Factoid: if all American households would not use the stand-by mode of their TV, an entire _nuclear_ power plant can be saved on a national level. :S

Re:Check it yourself (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16459211)

And that is better than saving an entire _coal_ power plant... how?

Re:Check it yourself (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458719)

Well, it's really hard to define "running" for a computer. Is it when it's on, sitting idle? Is it when it's running at 100%, spinning every disk, and using every peripheral you have hooked up to it. With a washing machine, or a fridge, it's pretty easy to define the power usage. There are only so many standard operating modes. With a computer, the power consumption varies a lot with usage.

Re:Check it yourself (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459235)

For PC power consumption issues, off means shutdown, with the monitor off and the way to turn it back on is to press the power button. Peak usage is something that happens only in spikes for most users. Those that run boinc, etc. do so by choice. Peak power consumption is pretty much only achieved during bootup, and it is easy to reduce. Get rid of the P4 and buy a processor that can handle a quiet fan. It is very easy to lower peak power consumption by a factor of 3 or 4, and more work is being done all the time to improve the efficiencies of cpus and other chips. Pretty much every computer these days has some way of bringing its idle power consumption close to the off level - automatically spinning down the disks and turning off the monitor are the most significant and common. The problem is that even when off, these devices consume far more power than most people realize. When you add it up, the 24-hour slow drains often are more costly than the 5-minute bootup or the 1-hour fps session.

It all seems so familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458437)

I remember reading (maybe years ago) a Slashdot story where the comments mostly discussed wall worts and their collective drain on a given power grid. It could have been this [] story, or this [] story, or even this [] story.

Whichever story it was, it changed the way I used my electronic devices that went into standby mode when I turned them off.

1W from one source (2, Interesting)

Moracq (63771) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458439)

Why cut all the devices down to 1W draw, when I should be able to drop ALL my devices to 1W *total*. Put a 1W IR sensor on my power strip, and then I can turn the strip on and off from a remote! For modern programmable remotes, it's just one more line in my power on macro, and instead of 6 or 8+W (1W for each device, when you consider TV, VCR, DVD, Receiver and my 2 powered tower speakers), you just have the 1W from the "sleeping" power strip.

It'd get even better if I could teach my Tivo to turn on/off my cable box!


Re:1W from one source (1)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458827)

My wife's TiVo has missed recording shows after the power flips off and on again. TiVo comes back up, but the cable box stays off. So TiVo records blackness.

Now, the only UPS in the house protects TiVo and the cable box. Its surge suppressors protect the TiVo modem line, the Teevee, the VCR, and the DVD player.

Re:1W from one source (2, Interesting)

amorsen (7485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458921)

Around here you can buy power strips with a special "TV" socket. Plug the TV in the TV socket, and the rest (DVD etc.) in the other sockets. As soon as the power strip detects the TV using less than 20W, it powers off the other sockets. At least that way it's only the TV on stand by.

You can also get power strips with a USB cable. They only supply power when they detect voltage on the USB line -- so turn off your computer, and the peripherals turn off too. Unfortunately there are computers which won't turn off USB power, no matter how much you play with the BIOS settings.

Wasting energy when powered down (4, Interesting)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458471)

Why apply this only to standby mode? Why not apply this to devices that are completely powered down as well? I've noticed a significant reduction in power consumption when I've unplugged appliances and other electrical devices (most notably my PC) when they're not in use. Is it that difficult to implement a hard switch within the device? Understandably, we wouldn't want this for devices that are operated via remote.

Your PC *was* in standby mode. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458973)

Ever since the passing of the AT power supply, computers have only had what is for the purposes of this article a standby modes. The soft-power switch needs juice to work, after all. (A few power supplies still have a hard power switch in addition to the soft-power modes.)

Re:Wasting energy when powered down (1)

damacus (827187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459003)

Standby includes these devices. For most consumer devices, even those without remote controls, 'standby' and 'off' are synonymous.

And it costs how much? (1, Funny)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458473)

Postings so far have criticized the cost of conversion to save the under-$25/year figure.

But there's another cost:

How much does it cost in lost productivity, over a year, while people wait for their monitors and computer to "warm up" from power-save mode every time they've left their desks or done something OFF the computer for too long?

And for recreational machines: In lost lifetime? How much is YOUR life worth to you?

Re:And it costs how much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458903)

Exactly! I leave my monitor on 24/7, it's been on for years. Who wants to sit there and wait for it to warm up? Same thing with the computer. Booting takes too long! So I leave it all on 24/7, it doesn't bother me. It's just part of my cost of living. It's my choice how I want to spend my money.

Never mind productivity... (2, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459103)

There's also a convenience cost. Is it worth $2 a month to you so your entertainment devices can rapidly turn on?

Re:Never mind productivity... (1)

jroysdon (201893) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459231)

I wouldn't call my PC an entertainment device. It's an information/education device (411, IMDB, Wikipedia, Bible software), family communication (email, email to cell), music library, and banking. We rarely play games on the PCs. I can see it on other devices that are rarely used (tv, home stereo, etc.).

I know I hate certain standby devices with long warm-up times, like printers and photo copiers. They need intelligent clocks built in to watch usage patterns. M-F at 8am (or whenever usage usually occurs), they should step back up.

4% usage for standby will decrease (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458481)

The 4% figure stated for standby power usage will surely decrease as people purchase systems that use more power while running (i.e. multi-core, high-end GPU, etc.).

Is this good news or bad?

Why use standby? (2, Insightful)

ParanoidJanitor (959839) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458527)

Are the five seconds to bring your computer out of hibernate really that critical? Hibernate takes 0W if you switch off your PSU when you walk away.

Re:Why use standby? (4, Funny)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458923)

In the five seconds I'm waiting for it to restart, I'll forget why I wanted to turn it on. Modern society functions on IMMEDIATE gratification of desries. Are you trying to kill us all?

Re:Why use standby? (1)

damacus (827187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459085)

Because flipping a physical switch doesn't scale well, and most consumers are too idiotic to, (1) think/know to do this each time, and (2) flip it back on (without calling tech support first) the next time they decide to use the computer.

Re:Why use standby? (3, Insightful)

CreatureComfort (741652) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459219)

Is $25 a year that critical to your budget? Hell, I'm reading this thread while drinking a bottle of Scotch that cost 6 times that much.

And let's see... 5 seconds for turning on a PC, figure I do that a minimum of 3 times per day, 300 days per year. That's 75 minutes (1.25 hours) per year. At my current billing rate that equates to $75 per year. So I'm supposed to give up $75 of my time to save $25?

Don't we have bigger problems to solve? (0, Troll)

Oz0ne (13272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458537)

I agree with reducing energy use/expenditures of our electronic devices... but that needs to be done when they're on.

Standby greatly reduces the draw, and that's it's point. It's not supposed to use no power, just less. If people are concerned by the power they're using, they should turn unecessary their devices off. It really doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.

Re:Don't we have bigger problems to solve? (1)

Moracq (63771) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458575)

The point is that even turning the device "off" doesn't eliminate the power draw, and that the power draw in this "off" state on some (most?) devices is quite large.

I agree that even the "on" state could use some cleanup.

Right now (1)

also-rr (980579) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458555)

It's somewhere between cold and hypothermia (metric) in here, so I don't feel too bad about leaving the old space heater althlon on. In fact since I moved to this benighted part of the world it hasn't been any other way.

This is possible the only advantage of living in England. That and the beer.

As for people with their AC on... switch it off! You can aclimatise to heat easily as long as you never go near air conditioned space. It normally takes me a week to get back into the swing of things but I'm perfectly comfortable in 90+ weather - the dehumidifier is way more important than the cooling, if you need any mechanical aids at all. Then at least you won't be paying twice for your power (heating and cooling the excess heat).

Re:Right now (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458685)

I don't think yo should generalize so much there - I know for me personally, I find it much harder to aclimatise to heat than cold. I live in a cold country too (Canada), and during the winter, if I had it my way the heat in our house would never be above 12 degrees C, since it doesn't bother me to operate at that temp (my fiancee on the other hand...)

But in the summer, once it gets above 22 degrees c, it feels like a sauna to me. I have to run the AC at anything over 24 or else I simply can not sleep.

Dehumidifer = A/C w/ slower fan. (1)

sirwired (27582) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459023)

It normally takes me a week to get back into the swing of things but I'm perfectly comfortable in 90+ weather - the dehumidifier is way more important than the cooling, if you need any mechanical aids at all.

Unless you are using a disposable dessicant (like Silica), a dehumidifier IS an air-conditioner, and requires no less energy to operate. It is just one that puts the heat back into the room instead of outside. An A/C an be used as a quite effective dehumidifier if you slow the blower speed. This increases the dehumidification but does have the side effect of decreasing the cooling efficiency. All variable-speed A/C systems usually have DIP switches you can throw to adjust blower speed.

You might find that an A/C system adjusted for dehumidification could keep your house at a comfortable heat and humidity level while also making it habitable by wimps.

Carrier (I don't know if they exist in the U.K.) makes a thermostat/A/C system called the "Infinity" that will run your blower unit at the precise correct speed to meet your temperature AND humidity control requirements for top comfort. (It can also run a humidifier in the winter time if low humidity is a problem.)


Not just power savings (3, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458557)

Some always-on devices are just plain stupid. Like computers: remember when computer PSUs had a physical switch that cut the power to the computer? when they replaced that with a soft power button that connected to the motherboard, they replaced a perfectly working system with one that didn't bring much at all to anybody, save for people who need to remote-boot through a network card and for people who are too dumb to stop the OS before the machine, and created the hateful power-button-that-doesn't-work-when-the-OS-crashes syndrome. Not to mention the extra power consumption...

Re:Not just power savings (1)

GotenXiao (863190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458945)

You mean that nice manual on/off rocker switch that instantly cuts AC input to the PSU? Still got that on my ATX 2.2 supply.

Also, the situation you describe has a workaround; it's called holding the off switch for four seconds - after that point the motherboard cuts the power. Try it sometime.

I happen to like the +5VSB line. It does many useful things. Imagine you have six rooms of computers that get "turned off" every night, and you want them all to be up and running by 0830 every morning... Wake-on-LAN script that goes through a list of MAC addresses and powers them all up, thus saving you the time taken to manually go round each machine and switch them on, or the time taken by an employee who switches on the machine, then goes and gets coffee and has a chat for 15 minutes. Or your router has a WOL capability, and remote SSH login - power cut. Router comes back up, PC doesn't. WOL signal brings the machine up even if you're 1000 miles away.

Re:Not just power savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16459131)

Imagine you have six rooms of computers that get "turned off" every night, and you want them all to be up and running by 0830 every morning

Yah, turning on 6 rooms of computers at the same time is good for the grid. Oh wait...

Soft-power... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16459233)

"...the hateful power-button-that-doesn't-work-when-the-OS-crashes syndrome."

Do people really not know that they just need to hold the switch for forced power off?

It really isn't that much... (2, Insightful)

rbf2000 (862211) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458561)

The amount saved is so minimal. You can make it sound large when you multiply it by the entire population, but if you compare that to the GDP of the nation, the amount saved is even more minimal!

Plus, who will feed the starving families of the power companies when we all start using $24 less of power each year!

micro-generation (2, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458619)

I think this coupled with a small, cheap solar install on every rooftop could significantly cut power usage. With advances like this this [] , its doable - not to power your house, but to help distribute generation capacity and smooth out load peaks. Of course, solar cell manufacture consumes a lot of energy and can create industrial waste issues, but the point is to get the power generation somewhere dirty and concentrated, rather than smogging up everything.

Household Energy Usage (5, Informative)

EricBoyd (532608) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458625)

I just finished a comprehensive audit of all the electricity drawing devices in my house: ld_energ.html []

I learned that my Stereo system consumes 22W when on "standby" and only about 35W when in use - what a total waste! So I put it on a power bar. My older TV is 0W standby, and all the newer Wall Warts that I have seem to be OK as well - 4 of them together only rate 1W. Your milege may vary :-)

Re:Household Energy Usage (1)

centron (61482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459243)

Aren't you being hard on that poor stereo? I mean, it has to power an infrared receiver so that the remote control will work. According to this government study [] , the IR receiver alone uses 0.05 watts all by itself! Once you factor in the overhead, all the wires and circuits and ohms and such, 22 watts makes complete sense.

Yep. Complete sense...

Re:Household Energy Usage (1)

riffzifnab (449869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459283)

At the end of your write up you talk about trying to reduce your carbon emisions, you might be interested in a Terra Pass [] to offset some of your carbon load. It makes my morning comute that much less irritating, knowing my car is offset. That and its fun pissing off people driving 55 on the highway, it also gets me 40 MPG in my Ford Focus. Yea baby!

+1 Scatter-shot

Could someone tell me. (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458645)

Could someone tell me why you would even use stand by power? I just don't see the benefit of saving 1-2 seconds when modern consoles take longer than that just loading the main menus and hence defeat the entire point..

I mean why is it so difficult to just turn it on?

You don't understand... (3, Informative)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459095)

"Standby power" is what you have when you can use the remote control to turn on the TV, DVD player, etc. It is powered up enough to be able to respond to the remote, i.e. it is standing by for your commands. It need not be a remote, however. A printer with an electronic power button (like a little HP inkjet, for example) is in standby mode, as opposed to the gargantuan EPSON 132-column industrial dot matrix printers that have what looks like a circuit breaker to turn them on and off. A touch-lamp would be using standby power, while a bulb on a mechanical pull-chain switch would not.

This is only very loosely related to your idea of laptop-style standby mode.

Re:Could someone tell me. (1)

damacus (827187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459147)

Any device you want to turn on and off via remote control needs to have a standby mode. Any device with an internal timer or clock needs a standby mode (and/or a battery.) There are plenty of reasons and uses, but it should be efficient if the capability is in place.

Obeying the laws of thermodynamics (1, Redundant)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458669)

From the article: Over the course of a device's lifetime, the cost of all that standby power can actually exceed the cost of having the device on.

So, using full power costs less than by using standby? I suppose I can cool down the kitchen by leaving the fridge door open, too? Maybe I should leave the hot water running to cut down on my power bill?

Re:Obeying the laws of thermodynamics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16459031)

Yes well, they are not explaining themselves very clearly are they? But what they mean is that for a given usage pattern, the total energy used in standby may exceed the total energy used in actual service. Say you watch TV for four hours each evening. Let's say the TV uses 60 watts while watching, so that is 240 Watt hours used in service. Say the standby power usage is 15 Watts, then the standby energy usage is 20 times 15, which would be 300 Watt hours. So more energy is being used when it is doing nothing. Obviously however, the solution is not to leave it turned on all the time, especially not sitting and watching it 24/7!!!

The numbers used above are purely hypothetical, so don't blame me if your devices use more or less. But it is true that many devices are unnecessarily wasteful.

Re:Obeying the laws of thermodynamics (3, Insightful)

241comp (535228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459079)

I don't think they mean that the per-hour cost of standby power exceeds the per-hour cost of having the device on but rather that you may have a device which uses 7W in standby 22hrs/day and 60W on for 2hrs/day (LCD TV?). This means that on the average day, the device uses 154W in standby and 120W while in use. Over the lifetime of the device (say, 900 days), the device uses 30KW more in standby than it did while in use. Another example of this is your hot water heater/tank. If you have an older, less insulated tank, you may be able to reduce your hot water power usage by more than 50% by getting an on-demand water heater which eliminates standby power usage.

Battery Chargers and other AC adaptors (1)

Heem (448667) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458675)

I got one of these to play with last year: []

While hooking it up to every little device I could find, I found that battery chargers, such as those for your drill or cell phone, are using electricity while their respective devices are not even connected to them. Granted, it's not much power, but with 5 or 6 of them plugged in, and no devices even attached to them.. thats wasteful. So.. unplug 'em if you aren't using them.

Re:Battery Chargers and other AC adaptors (2, Interesting)

GeorgeS069 (956679) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459197)

I found a great way to handle those little "wall warts" such as chargers for cell phones and my electric razors: I put them all on one big power strip and have it plugged into a timer that only runs for 2 hours overnight so when I wake up my stuff is usually ready to go and the other 22 hours a day they are all turned off.
I thought maybe the timer would be wasting what I saved but,it seems a good timer uses less than 1 watt while running but,YMMV

For about half the year, I don't care. (1)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458737)

You know, for about half of the year, I'm paying for heat in one form or another. This "wasted energy" helps to heat my house during that part of the year. Additionally, I pay less for electricity during nights and weekends - it's cheaper than propane to heat with electricity during those hours. So, an "inefficient" electrical device, actually _saves_ me money if I'm paying to heat the house.

fp g3oAt.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16458805)

1 Watt (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458899)

Um, it would be nice if they could encourage 1 Watt as a usage goal while the device is on as well. I can understand things like irons, dishwashers, dryers, refrigators, ovens, garabe disposals, vacuum cleaners, and heating/air conditioning taking up a big amount of energy while in use. I have no clue how much it costs to run my dishwasher each cycle or say over a month's time.

I'd love for the government to work toward's most devices using 1 watt or less. Those walkaround phones, TVs, ceiling fans are a few things that I would like it if they used 1 watt or less during operation. Heck, how much electricity do each of the new next gen. game systems use during play and during standby?

Standby Power and Consoles (2, Interesting)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458901)

Most old videogame consoles use less than 1 watt on standby, but this seems to be going away [] The PS2 already used 2 watts on standby, and the XBox 360 is following suit. We don't have firm data on the Wii and the PS3, but given the numbers of the PS2 and the Wii Connect24 feature, I'd be surprised if either of the two go back to the 1W barrier

Easy solution (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458961)

Put an on/off switch on every mains socket. Very common in the UK.

Small Potatoes (4, Insightful)

oiper (575250) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458977)

You want to fight the war on power consumption? Incandescent light bulbs. In regards to energy consumption, they are perhaps the most inefficient piece of technology today; and they are everywhere.

Bad Idea (1)

slidersv (972720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458979)

Our development bring the consuption up. I don't like the whole idea going out of my way, just to save a few watts here and there.

Develop useful products, which are more energy friendly, and switch to the most environment-friendly energy today (nuclear), until even more environment-friendly energy is economically viable.

But do not tell me, that i have to waste my time waiting for my system to boot, sit at home in the dark, or otherwise endure great uncomfort, to save energy.
The technology is part of life. How would you feel, if i'd tell you to wait 3 minutes every time you decided to breathe in?

It's not that using up energy is bad. It's just that we are provided with BAD ENERGY.

Leave them on? (2, Insightful)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16458995)

Given my general observation at work places that most people don't even bother switch to stand-by power and just leave their computers on, I think encouraging people to put the computers is a good start, even if not perfect. Ideally it would be nice to be able to have computers hibernate, but then if you want to work from home, then there is no solution to wake them up. The wake-on-Lan solutions that I have seen only work on computers in stand-by.

At one of the places where I worked I implemented a web page which you could access from the VPN, and type in your PC name and it would wake up your office computer, if in stand-by.

Please invent (1)

wytcld (179112) | more than 7 years ago | (#16459077)

Would it be possible to design a power strip for wall warts that could sense whether an external device was actually drawing on each of them at the time, and cut back the input power when it's not?

How about a media center power strip with a remote control - just a simple on and off - with the option to train it to accept the on and off signals from other remotes?

Or have a media center power strip which can be trained to recognize the power draw of one key device when it's in on rather than standby mode, where the key device is then left in its normal standby/on mode but plugged into a special socket in the strip, and the strip then cuts or restores power to all the other devices according to whether the key device is turned on?

If you start manufacturing that last one, please send me one!
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