In the news

As a man that has spent a fair bit of time wondering around with a power meter and plugging various figures into excel spreadsheets, I was a little skeptical when I saw the news story the other day that UK households wasting up to £86 a year leaving things on standby. Of course the bit to note is “up to” which is a figure derived from measuring the power consumption of the test households at 3-4am and using that as a maximum figure for standby and hidden energy consumption. Which is a bit daft. One household has a consumption of 800W at the time of the morning so they have obviously left numerous things on or are making lots of cups of coffee! And it’s things like that which make the report less worthwhile.

The actual average waste – measure by adding up the average standby power of all the devices they could find – was 47W which works out at just under £50 a year. I’d guess that removing the few power hogs from the average would lower that even more. Just take a look at the graph below relating to the ‘audiovisual site’. One household is using more power in a year just for their TV, DVD player and XBox than most households use on powering absolutely everything in the house – 4000kWh.

AV Energy usage

Whilst I’m not a statistician, I’m guessing you would shave off the extreme results at either end of the scale especially with a sample size this small (250 houses). Or using the median.

I’m not the only one that was skeptical however and The Register also took a closer look. I’m not sure I agree with them however when they say “Of course this study was so shoddily carried out that it doesn’t really tell us anything.”. I think there is actually some interesting information contained in the report if you take the time to dig a little. Such as the biggest energy savings can be found by switching to low energy fridges and freezers and not drying clothes so much using tumble driers. It’s just a shame that they seem to make a bit of a mess with the analysis of the data, miss some glaring errors and that the only thing that made headlines in the press were potential savings for switching things off at the plug – the “War on Standby” as the Register says….

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