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When “Off” Isn’t Really “Off,” What Can You Do About It?

Last week the New York Times reported about the significant amount of energy that goes into powering all the devices you have plugged in at home even when you think they are turned off.  This is a growing challenge worth paying attention to.  In fact, it’s estimated that U.S. households spend approximately $100 per year to power devices while they are not in use. Across the country, standby power accounts for more than 100 billion kWh of annual electricity consumption and $11 billion in annual energy costs.

But don’t fret! Take Action! The most important step you can take is to always look for the ENERGY STAR.  ENERGY STAR certified products including electronics like TVs, computers, audio speakers, sound bars, and printers, are all specially designed to minimize energy waste when idle. Driving down the energy use of highly connected products like cable and satellite boxes and modems is particularly challenging, but even for these, models that have earned the ENERGY STAR offer significant savings.  Here are steps you can take now to reduce idle energy use in your home:

  • Power strip
    Plug electronics, including your speakers, printers, remote cable/satellite and TVs, into a smart power strip, which allows you to designate “always on” for devices that need to maintain network connection, while cutting power from devices like speakers and TVs when they are not in use.  
  • Do you stream through a game console? If so you're using up to ten times more power than streaming on a laptop or tablet. These devices use the least amount of power for streaming and are your best bet if you're using some other kind of device like a Blu ray player, cable box, or a smart TV. Learn more about streaming media.
  • Power manage your computers and monitors to enter a low-power “sleep mode” after a period of inactivity. This can help you save $50 each year on energy costs.
  • When selecting your pay-tv provider, select an ENERGY STAR partner like DIRECTV (now part of AT&T) and EPB.  These providers have committed to providing customers with the best in set-top box efficiency, meaning savings for you.
  • If you want that pay-tv content in multiple rooms, secure a multi-room set up from your provider. This way a single more powerful satellite or cable box in your living room can send content to energy sipping boxes in your secondary rooms.  DIRECTV and AT&T also offer a no-box solution for those secondary rooms if your TV includes RVU functionality.

Taking simple steps to reduce energy waste is good for you and good for the planet. A household equipped with ENERGY STAR certified products can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 107,000 pounds and save about $9,300 on energy bills over the products’ lifetimes.

Learn more Ways to Save with help from ENERGY STAR.