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Power adaptor that shuts off devices in standby mode

This is a “green” gadget; a multi-way adaptor that acts as a surge protector, but at the same time automatically switches off devices that have been left in standby mode for a pre-determined time.

Most people think that when they put an electrical appliance into standby mode, the only energy used is to light up the red LED. Searching around the net for material for this article, I was shocked by some of the reported statistics on the energy wasted by devices left in this mode.

The first search result I found on a search for “energy consumption gadgets standby” took me to the BBC News website, which had an article on energy wasted in the UK by devices left on standby. A UK survey by the Energy Saving Trust found that the average household had 12 gadgets on standby at any time wasting more than £740 million of electricity each year. It’s not just the money that we’re wasting; we’re also contributing to global warming by needlessly releasing CO2 into the atmosphere.

Specifically, the estimated CO2 emissions from gadgets left on standby were:

• Stereos – 1,600,000 tonnes

• Videos – 960,000 tonnes

• TVs – 480,000 tonnes

• Consoles – 390,000 tonnes

• DVD players – 100,000 tonnes

• Set-top boxes – 60,000 tonnes

making a total of 3.6 million tonnes of CO2 against an estimated total of 150 million tonnes of emissions (carbon equivalents) each year in the UK.

Reliable data for energy leakage in the US were more difficult to come by, but a 1998 study commissioned by the US Department of Energy estimated that 98 million households wasted some 7.7 TWh of electrical energy. This is equivalent to 50 million (metric) tonnes of CO2, based on my VERY rough calculations from the raw numbers.

In any case, wherever in the world you are, you can save a little money and maybe reduce our impact on the environment by unplugging all those gadgets before you go to bed. PCs and monitors are the worst offenders.