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Do Appliances on Standby use Power?

We’re often told to switch things off at the wall, but few of us actually bother. So do appliances on standby actually use power? And how much are they adding to your bill?

With each year that passes, we are cramming more and more smart appliances into our homes. Not only do we have the usual TVs and gaming consoles, but even once basic appliances now come with smart features and wi-fi connectivity. Our lights change colours, our coffee machine is controlled via an app, and our friend Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant is always on call to help, thanks to our smart home hub.

But the downside to having everything waiting for our every command is that our appliances aren’t really ever off. The water may not be boiling in the kettle, and the TV may not be showing any movies, but these appliances are always on standby, ready and waiting to go.

But if our appliances aren’t off, are they using power? And should you be concerned about how much of your bill is going towards appliances on standby? Canstar explores.

What is standby?

Standby is a mode for an appliance that is not in use, but has not been fully turned off. Many appliances have a standby mode whether you know it or not. Essentially any appliance with a digital display or lights that are still on, a wi-fi connection, or that you’ve put into a sleep mode (instead of powering down) after its last use will be on standby.

Do appliances on standby use power?

Yes. An appliance in standby mode uses power. How much power it uses depends on the appliance and what is required of it in standby mode.

For example, some appliances may just power a small LED light. Others may be actively connected to wi-fi, awaiting remote activation, or even performing system updates.

Compare electricity providers with Canstar Blue

Finding affordable power involves shopping around. And to help you find the best value electricity retailer, Canstar Blue rates NZ power companies for customer satisfaction and value for money, see the table below for some of the results, or you can click on the buttons below for the full results of our survey, and to compare bundled utility providers.

Canstar Blue’s latest review of NZ power companies compares them on customer satisfaction. The table above is an abridged version of our full results, available here.

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How much power is wasted on standby?

It’s estimated that Kiwi households each waste about $100 a year on powering appliances on standby. That may not sound like a huge amount, but it’s still roughly 5% of an average yearly bill. That’s a pretty significant price for powering things we’re not using.

It’s important to note that the actual costs involved will vary, depending on what you have in your home, and the make and model of those items, too. Older electrical items tend to use more power in standby mode than modern energy-efficient ones.

Which appliances are the biggest culprits?

Again, this depends on make and model. But, as a general rule, if you think about what the appliance does you can probably get a good idea of whether or not it’s using much power. The more complex and high tech the item, the more juice it probably consumes on standby. Think gaming consoles or a multi-function printer, or smart devices that can be run via an app or smart assistant.

Furthermore, while some appliances don’t necessarily use much power, you may use them so little you can’t justify leaving them on. If you only use your air fryer once every few months, but have it plugged in and ready to go on the bench, your standby bill could end up costing you more than the bill for using it.

→Related article: What is Google‌ ‌Nest‌? Smart‌ ‌Tech‌ ‌for‌ ‌Your‌ Home‌

What about phone and computer chargers?

If you’ve ever touched a phone charger, or a computer power adapter, that’s plugged in and switched on at the wall, even if it’s not connected to a phone or computer, you’ll know that it feels warm to the touch.

This is because it’s still burning through power. The prestigious Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US researched the power usage of phone chargers, among other electrical devices, and reported that when charging, a phone charger uses an average of 3.68W. But it still burns 2.24W if the phone is fully charged, and 0.26W even without a phone attached.

In comparison, a laptop charger uses 44.28W when charging, 8.9W if the computer is switched off, and 4.42W when not even attached to a computer.

So even if there’s nothing attached to your charger cable, it’s a good idea to switch it off at the wall to save power.

What about basic appliances?

Appliances such as toasters and lamps, in general, don’t have any computer circuitry in the them. This means that when they’re not in use, they’re not using any power, and can be left switched off at the wall.

Although if you’re not using them, it’s always safer to switch them off at the wall, to prevent any potential mishaps, such as fires or electrical shocks, while you’re not around.

How can I cut standby costs?

Turn it off at the wall

The obvious solution is to switch off your devices at the wall when they’re not in use, if possible. Additionally, smart plugs can help. These allow you to switch plugs on and off remotely, or set timers to automatically turn off appliances at certain times. However, smart plugs, in turn, will require power to work.

Get energy-efficient appliances

Energy-efficient appliances cost less to run and can help save on power. If you have a few old appliances about, it could be time to upgrade.

Read more:
1. Most Energy-Efficient Refrigerators
2. Most Energy-Efficient Dishwashers
3. Most Energy-Efficient Washing Machines
4. Most Energy-Efficient Clothes Dryers

Dive into the settings

Many appliances such as gaming consoles and smart TVs allow you to edit their settings, including what the appliances can do while on standby. By turning off functions such as searching for wifi, or completing updates while on standby, you can lower standby power usage.

Compare power providers

One way to save on your standby costs, is to save on your power costs. By comparing electricity providers you can see who has the best deal for you. Whether that’s through a better rate on power, or through benefits such as signing on credit, free power hours, cheaper off-peak rates and more, Canstar Blue can help get you the best deal.

Click the link below to learn more, or to start comparing with Canstar Blue.

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author andrew broadley

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.

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