Having been sorely disappointed by the energy monitor we borrowed from the library (it never really worked, most of the time the display just showed dashed lines, and when it did, it was very insensitive), I put out an appeal for a plug in device that tells you how much energy an appliance is using. I thought about buying one, but I decided that by the time the initial novelty of racing around the house plugging things into it had worn off, it was probably not that useful.

Twitter came up trumps again (have I mentioned how muchI love Twitter…?!) and the wonderful people at Rugby Friends of the Earth very kindly sent me theirs to borrow.

Energy monitor1Since then, I have had much excitement plugging in things and exclaiming at how much, or how little, energy they use (never let it be said that I need to get out more…)
And the results have indeed been Quite Interesting.

On: 48W
Standy/Sleep mode (when you haven’t touched it for a minute or two and the screen switches off): 38W
Off (when I’ve Shut Down, the computer, not me): 9.68W
WHAT!!!!! It is turned OFF, and still drawing nearly 10 whole watts? This is outrageous!
By my calculations, if the computer was just left turned off but plugged in (i.e. not even used), over a year, it would use 87.6kWh of electricity. That is just crazy.

Standby: 12.15W
Off: 12.15W
That’s 106 kWh a year!! Unplug that thing!

Slow Cooker
Low: 200W
Medium: 200W
High: 279W
Apparently there is little or no difference in energy use between low and medium, yet on medium you can cook for shorter periods, so maybe, I should be using it on medium, for less time?

On: 64W
Standby: 27W
Off: 12.3
That’s 107kWh a year-UNPLUG!!!

PVR-new fangled video recorder thing
When it’s OFF but still has the clock showing, and presumably is still doing stuff as sometimes it might be recording, and I think maybe our digital signal comes through this? 12.3W

Broadband modem: 7.35W (64kWh a year)

All of the things that we could easily un-plug when we are not using: computer; printer; TV-add up to 300kWh over a year. If we unplugged them, we could save about £40.
And then if we add in turning the modem off overnight (hubby turned pale at the thought of this-does anyone do this? Does it still fire up ok every morning?) that is another 24kWh. Or £3.60 (Actually, for the potential hassle of losing the internet, maybe a £3.60 saving over a year is not that great?)
For comparison, average electricity consumption is about 3,800kWh per year. So saving 300-360kWh is nearly 10%. By just unplugging! How cool/scary is that?

The radio, our bedside clock, the Small’s gro-clocks, the baby monitor and the night light, all showed readings of ZERO, which I was delighted at. Until hubby said something about transformer plugs and AC and DC currents. So basically, the monitor might not be able to detect the current that they are using, and my initial smug delight is unfounded.

The take home message of this post is, don’t assume that because you’ve turned something OFF and it’s not on standby, that it’s not using any electricity. If at all possible, turn stuff off at the plug. It might be a bit of a pain, but you could save some cash, and as I discovered when investigating all things electrical, using one unit less of electricity at home, actually means that somewhere along the line, 25 units have NOT been used, so it very quickly all adds up.

So what are you waiting for? Go Pull that Plug!




32 thoughts on “Q.I

  1. Thanks for this it’s fascinating, yeah I probably need to get out more 🙂
    Can I clarify, when you say off do you mean the machine is off but it’s still switched on at the plug, or is this off at the wall to but still pulling electricity?

  2. Wow! That’s very illuminating. But my Bigger Boy (14) just won’t believe that his homemade computer guzzles power left on standby 24-7. I need one of those energŷ monitors…

    • You really do! It is worth asking around to see if anyone has one you can borrow. Would offer you the one I have, but it’s not mine to give away!

  3. Long time reader, first time commenter ~ I understand that you shouldn’t turn your modem off as it has a sort of memory about the fastest speed that can be achieved and that gets reset if you turn it off and takes a couple of days to err well get back up to speed!

  4. My in laws only turn the router on when they need it and have had no problems.

    Once of the busy money saving things we have bought is an extension lead with individual switches on it meaning everything other than our sky box and sure signal – some thing that gives us mobile signal in our house is all properly switched off

  5. That is scary! Some newer stuff seems to be a lot better so manufacturers have responded. My smart TV on standby didn’t even register on the monitor. Router is usually on as it does the TV signal and costs about 2p a day and phones about 80p a year. Luckily we don’t really have a lot of electrical stuff. The TV does loads, music, computer etc so only one thing to plug in. The old TV gave up completely and this new one is more economical to run.

  6. Is the power being used when things are switched off something to do with the transformer plug, so if you switched it off at the plug would that then mean it stopped drawing power ?

    • You lost me at transformer plug Lesley! If the plug is switched off, then the appliances weren’t drawing power. Just when still plugged in and plug is switched on. Does that make sense?!

      • Yes, makes perfect sense.
        What I was trying to convey was that on some things, my laptop for instance, there is a transformer on the power lead. It is an oblong black box that sits between the power plug that goes in the wall and the connector into the laptop. If I switch my laptop off, the transformer will still stay warm, which shows that it must be drawing power.
        As far as I know, this is true for all appliances with transformers and is one of the reasons not to leave your phone dock switched on when your phone isn’t on it.

        I was trying to agree with you, obviously not very well, that some things need to be swtiched off at the wall, not just on the appliance

  7. That’s crazy. We switch our broadband modem off every night and have no problems reconnecting in the morning. We have plugged our laptops & modem into an extension cable thingy that has an off switch (power points in Portugal don’t have switches), but we might resort to crawling under the desk each evening to pull the plug out of the socket completely!

  8. You might find that you get slightly lower speeds for your network if you repeatedly turn off the router as there is constant negotiation about ADSL line speed and quality happening even when you are doing nothing on the network.
    Most modern devices will be able to reconnect to the wifi/network automatically so there should be no need to do anything else.
    If you have a Windows machine, you might want to leave it on, on a Tuesday night as that’s typically when the security patches are released and they can be downloaded overnight when you are not using network.
    You can get an aerial splitter so that your TV is not dependant on your PVR, allowing you to turn that off when not in use. However your PVR won’t be able to record if it is turned off.

    So the router and PVR might be doing things when “in standby”, but for the PC, TV and Printer their standby usage is unacceptably high. I wonder how we can feedback to manufacturers that we want them to do something about this?

    • I was just amazed that these things weren’t on standby and although we had gone to the trouble of turning them off, they were still drawing power. As you say, something to feed back to manufacturers.

  9. That’s more than QUITE Interesting Jen! My Frugal Friday post this week is also about energy use, but comes at it from a slightly different angle. We were aware about things like Computers using power when they’re powered down…in fact ours actually has a little LCD on the back which glows when it’s technically “off”. The TV thing surprised me though – this is a TV which was fully “off” from the switch on the TV unit itself, and yet still drawing power? How many folk would even begin to think of that?! We are pretty hot about turning things off when it comes to time that we’re on holiday, for example, but you’ve mentioned a few things there that I reckon mean I can get our “base use” down even further! Thanks!

    • Glad people seem to be finding this post useful!
      Yes, TV turned off from the switch on the TV, so I was smugly thinking we weren’t falling into the whole standby trap-little did I know!

  10. Oh wow – yes how to we feed this back to manufacturers?! AND our bosses (if you have them) ! I know what I can do it in my flat – but I paled at the thought of how much power my work offices (I’m a community therapist for the public sector) must draw for the 14 hours a day they are closed and have no-one in them!

    • I know. I am always a little depressed that I make such an effort with all sorts of things at home-re-use, recycling, energy use etc, and then it all goes out the window at work…

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  12. The boys have a go at me, but yes, every night, the plugs for computer, modem, tv are switched off. The only one that stays on is the box for the tv as it’s usually recording

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