Just How Much Power Do Your Electronics Use When They Are ‘Off’?

Wink just tweeted this, and thought it would be a nice topic. I know my DVR on stand by uses 35W.

So why do we plug appliances into smart outlets? When you see how much power they use, you’ll understand:

NYT Science: Just How Much Power Do Your Electronics Use When They Are ‘Off’?

My entire house uses about 160W-200W when idle and I have a LOT of electronics. When the fridge kicks in its cycles I get a 150W spike and the furnace fan about 500W. Once the dryer or stove are on, I am easily in the 5000-7000W range.

I use an Efergy energy monitor (thanks @tonesto7 for the ST app) which clamps right to my incoming feed lines in my breaker panel so it’s pretty accurate. I also ran around with a Belkin Energy monitor (https://www.belkin.com/conserve/insight/) and got the load of all my devices but trying to save 5W by keeping my handheld vacuum unplugged really hurt the WAF because whenever she wanted to use it, the battery was dead. I also put my PC’s into Power Saving/hibernate mode when idle and put my NAS on an old laptop rather than a 600W power supply desktop. Air drying your laundry was the biggest savings we made without making drastic changes to save just a few Watts (unplugging your router, TV, etc).

As for Smart Outlets, I get decora outlets for about $2 each whereas ZWave outlets are $25 (here in Canada anyway). The annoyance of everything being off when you want to use it + the $23 cost being recouped is not worth it IMHO. The biggest energy draws are on 220V anyway. Use a kettle instead of the stove to boil water, don’t use your dryer or A/C, don’t heat your house with electric are where you are really going to get savings, not through the 10-15W used by your cable modem.

All just my opinions after going through an energy audit of my own home, device by device.


You’re good! The best I could average was 234W when idle :slight_smile: But I don’t unplug the vacuum and some other “charging stations”

Wow. That’s a low idle. The lowest I can get mine to idle is 730W, but I have an embarassing amount of electronics. I also have network/server room that’s running 24/7.

When the wife turns on the dryer it jumps to about 8000W :angry:

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Please tell me where you get $25 outlets?


Here are my numbers. Idle is “Vampire power”, In Use is when the device is actively consuming power and AVG is based on monitoring the device cost for 30 days and converting to a yearly dollar figure. Some are 220V and needed to guesstimate with my Efergy. No lighting (either than plug in lamps) because I can’t use the Belkin. These are basically standard Nema 5 jack device numbers.

Device			Idle/Year	In Use/Year	AVG Use/Year

Toaster			$0.62		$81.00		$0.70
Microwave (EM-378T)	$0.59		$1,170.00	$5.10
Coffee Maker		$1.69		$872.00		$5.00
Kettle			$0.00		$1,025.00	$1.25
Humidifier		$0.06				$0.00
Fridge (61982101)	$34.25				$36.00
Oven (970-687620)					$21.00
Burner (970-687620)					$16.88
Dishwasher (WDT710PAYW)					$11.81
Pioneer Speaker		$2.50		$4.25		$2.75
Dustbuster		$3.35		$4.00		$3.50
WeMo			$1.40		$1.40		$1.40
WeMo Light		$0.00		$7.75		$1.40
Nest Light		$0.00		$7.30		$1.85
Foscam Camera		$2.80		$0.00		$2.90

Phone Charger		$2.00		$3.15		$2.25
VOIP			$4.25				$4.25
XIOS			$4.75				$5.00
Switch			$1.75				$1.75
Antenna Splitter	$2.75				$2.75
Amp			$0.85		$35.40		$1.50
TV			$0.00		$101.25		$8.45
Airport Express		$3.16		$3.25		$3.20
TV			$5.85		$36.70		$0.70
Apple TV		$0.75		$2.00		$0.85
Antenna			$1.75		$0.00		$0.00
Eliptical		$1.50				$1.50
iHome			$5.75				$5.75
iHome			$0.00				$0.10
CB Radio Charger	$0.48		$1.85		$0.00
Impact Driver		$0.00		$36.00		$0.56
Lightning Machine	$0.50		$14.00		$0.50
Freezer			$32.11				$34.00
Flashlight		$0.90				$0.00
Battery Charger		$2.25				$2.35
Washer (WTW7300X)	$1.00		$63.00		$2.25
Dryer (AP86100)						$67.50
Furnace Fan		$0.00		$296.00		$121.00
Projector		$0.00		$158.00		$30.40

Entertainment Unit	$18.00				$29.75			
Projector Screen	$0.65		$30.60		$0.75
Laptop			$0.75		$39.38		$1.85
USB Hub			$1.69				$1.69
External HD Dock	$0.47				$0.47
Lamp			$0.00		$2.25		$0.11
Foscam Camera		$1.38				$2.25
Remote Trans		$1.30				$1.30
Remote Charger		$0.45		$3.15		$0.47
Printer			$2.48				$2.50
NAS+Drives+Modem+Router	$48.38				$48.38
Beer Fridge		$6.45				$6.75
Garage Door		$3.32				$3.38
Chamberlain WIFI	$1.18				$1.18
Central Vac (Beam 191)	$1.54		$973.00		$4.75

Wow… Nice details…

At some point this year I’m planning a complete rewrite of the Efergy app/device to use all of the new tricks I’ve learned since then. I was my first project with smart things


Sorry I meant for wall plates/light switches. The wall outlets are about $60


Ok, where do you get a Z-Wave light switch for $25?

Not to be a pill, but that article is from 2006, and a lot has changed since then. The company that I work for, Power Integrations, has been (and still is, thankfully!) a leader in the development of Switched Mode Power Supply (SMPS) technology for over 20 years. I can assure you that the chips we’re introducing today are both more efficient in “on” mode, and consume less standby power than they did when that article was written. And they’re in most all of the new products that you buy.

Today, we can build a charger/adapter supply that has <25 mW standby consumption and >82% average efficiency over the full range of load. By the end of the year we expect to be able to do even better than that. We can build a 100W TV supply that has peak efficiency near 90% (no fan required), near-unity power factor, and about 450 mW standby consumption (needed to keep the IR sensor and related components powered up so you can turn it on). It’s not unreasonable to expect to see power supplies with average efficiency >90% and near-zero standby. The whole notion that you should be unplugging things to save energy is a bit outdated.

Efficiency regulations are a lot more stringent today than 10 years ago, too. Anybody seen a plasma TV for sale lately, for example? There’s a reason for that, and it’s not because people didn’t like the quality of the picture. It’s because California (the CEC) banned their sale and they were discontinued as a result.

Regulations continue to be the main driver of efficiency improvements, BTW. The manufacturers don’t care about efficiency, because it’s not a “feature” that moves product, and frankly the consumer doesn’t care either, because they tend to focus on the initial acquisition price, not the long-term cost of ownership. Does anybody think that most consumers would be buying LED bulbs for $3-5/each rather than $0.75 incandescents, if the latter hadn’t been outlawed?

Very high efficiency is possible, and will get here eventually. It takes time, though. For example, the DoE is working on a General Service Lamp (GSL) standard that will include “smart” bulbs, and the proposed limit on standby consumption is 500 mW. That’s actually pretty high and most of the bulbs from major players like Philips, GE, etc, already meet or exceed that; many consume <250 mW when the LEDs aren’t on. But, the standard won’t be published until the end of this year and won’t go into effect until 2020. Such is the nature of making mandatory standards; we can do it today, but the industry doesn’t want to pay the costs to implement, so we wait for future product design cycles. In the meantime, stick to major manufactures and you should be good. The Chinese-made stuff… yeah, not so much.

Standards are coming to the IoT, too. If anybody is interested, the IEA just released a report that looks at the IoT, specifically - Energy’Efficiency of’ the Internet’of’Things.

TL;DR - That’s an old article and should be taken with a grain of salt. :wink:


Which article are you referring to? Most links I looked at are from 2014 or 2015, and the main article was published 3 days ago…

Interesting thought…, when searching google for standby power consumption of zigbee and zwave devices I find quotes anywhere from 0.5W to 5W. But even if it is only 0.5W it adds up to a lot when I count my >50 devices including switches, relays and bulbs.

Sorry, I read 2006, not 2016. Damn tiny font (and my old eyes)! Sorry!