Why should you be concerned about stand-by power?

Stand-by power refers to the amount of energy an appliance uses when it is plugged in but not performing its main function.

Instead, it could still be using electricity to power the internal clock or so that it can receive signals from your remote control.

This is 'wasted energy' and can cause your electricity prices to rise as a result. In fact, according to Energy Rating, stand-by power accounted for more than 10 per cent of residential electricity consumption.

This study also revealed consumption cost consumers around $950 million and resulted in carbon emissions of nearly 6.5 million tonnes. 

Items such as televisions, home entertainment appliances, computers, microwaves, battery chargers, cordless phones, fax machines and any other appliances with a built-in remote or electronic clock use stand-by power.

Here are the four main power modes your appliances will be in and how these affect your power bills.


When you are using the appliance, it is in active or "in-use" mode.This could be using a DVD player to watch a movie or using your charger to top up your mobile's battery.

In order to reduce the amount of energy consumed when your appliances are being operated, it is important to use them carefully.

For instance, if you want to watch a DVD you will use less energy with a DVD player than with a games console.

Active stand-by

This is the mode where you appliance may be turned off but is primed and waiting to be used. A good example of this is a DVD player that is switched on but has no DVD to play.

To save money on your power bills, it is best to switch these items off at the wall when not in use, as they are still drawing power from the grid.

Passive stand-by

If an appliance is turned off but can be woken up with a remote, this is called passive stand-by. This also includes appliances that can be activated by a timer or internal sensor. Anything that is performing a secondary purpose, such as displaying the time, can be considered in passive stand-by.

A basic rule of thumb is that if there is a light or clock on, you are using power. In this case, it is best to switch the appliance off at the wall in order to lower your electricity prices.


An appliance that has been switched off at the wall does not draw electricity from the grid. Where possible it is important to encourage all members of your household to start turning things off at the wall.

This means they cannot be activated again with the use of a remote control.

In order to help your household to remember to switch off, you may want to consider installing power boards with switches as this makes it easier to turn individual items off at the wall when not in use.

Another tip to help reduce your stand-by power use is to purchase a stand-by controller. This will automatically turn off any items that are not in use. These can often be found with audiovisual equipment like TVs and DVD players as well as in office equipment such as printers and computers.

According to the South Australian government, appliances on stand-by could use up to 20 watts of power. However, this does depend on the type and model.

Switching off your TV at the wall could save you around $26.28 per year, your DVD player $21.01 and your computer monitor a further $13.14.

If you have more appliances on stand-by in your home, you might be able to save even more.

For more information about your appliances, check the manufacturer's guide for stand-by power information. 

Posted by Liam Tunney.