Perspectives for Reduction of Standby Power Consumption in Electrical Appliances
by Brahmanand Mohanty, Visiting Associate Professor, Asian Institute of Technology, Pathumthani, Thailand
Imagine you have ordered a glass of cool carbonated
drink in a bar. What would your reaction be if
the waiter returned with a glass filled mostly
with frothy bubbles and very little liquid at
the bottom? You will certainly feel cheated. Why
should you pay for a practically empty glass?
And yet this is what happens to most of us in
our day-to-day life and we continue to pay for
“the drink that we never really got to drink”.
A video cassette recorder (VCR) is used in homes
around the world for playing and recording cassettes
for only about 5 per cent of the time while it
remains in standby state during the remaining
95 per cent of the day. Little do we realize that
only 15 per cent of the power it uses is consumed
during its operation and 85 per cent of the power
it uses is consumed when the machine is in standby
state. We cannot even blame the “waiter”
in this case.
electricity is the energy consumed by appliances
when they are not performing their main functions
or when they are switched off. The energy wasted
in this manner is commonly referred to as “standby
loss” or “leaking electricity”.
Most people are not aware of the fact that modern
electrical and electronic appliances, even those
having on/off switches, consume power for standby
functions that include features such as powering
of the built-in clock or memory, displaying information,
responding to remote controls or programming,
charging of batteries, etc.
study conducted by the Australian Greenhouse Office
concluded that up to 80 per cent of the electricity
used by VCRs was consumed in standby mode. In
New Zealand, 40 per cent of the electricity used
by microwave ovens is consumed as standby energy,
mainly to run digital clocks. Field surveys in
office buildings of Thailand concluded that standby
energy consumed 53 per cent of the power consumed
by personal computers (PCs), and more than 90
per cent of that consumed by copiers, printers
and fax machines.
number of products with standby power consumption
is growing rapidly in both quantity and diversity.
Several products commercialized in the market
today do not have any hard “off” switches.
Many appliances have no standby features but are
equipped with external power supplies (commonly
known as wall-packs). Even when they are not performing
any operation or are switched off, a small amount
of energy is lost in low voltage power supplies,
mainly due to the cheap transformers with high
core losses. Household appliances and office equipment
such as televisions (TVs), video recorders, audio
players, telephone answering and facsimile machines,
computers, printers and copiers contribute to
this standby loss which is relatively low, with
typical loss per appliance ranging from less than
1 W to as much as 25 W.
more and more such appliances are being used in
households and offices, their energy consumption
during standby periods represents a significant
share of the total energy used. Recent field studies
show that standby power accounts for 9.4 per cent
of household energy use in Japan, whereas the
figure rises to 11.6 per cent in Australia. The
standby losses amount to about 20.5 billion kilowatt
hours (kWh) for Germany. Standby power in the
residential and commercial sectors in Organisation
for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD)
may account for 188 tera watt hours (TWh)/year,
or 2.2 per cent of the total OECD electricity
consumption. Much of this consumption can be avoided,
as proven by the introduction of power-saving
standby modes in several appliances that are permanently
2.4.1 Why should you pay for what you have not really
- standby power of a VCR
developing countries, there is lower penetration
of electronic products in homes and offices and
one would normally expect much lower standby power
consumption of households as compared with their
counterparts in the industrialized world. However,
the appliances that are available in the market
are often not the state-of-art products sold in
developed countries. No detailed field surveys
are currently available for developing countries
in the Asia and Pacific region. A survey of 51
households in Japan showed that if the appliances
in use were replaced by the latest models sold
in the market, the standby energy use per household
would reduce from 398 to 228 kWh/year, representing
savings of almost 43 per cent. Industry has proven
that savings as high as 90 per cent can be achieved
in many appliances without any reduction in services
and at low or no cost.
aspect that merits attention is the awareness
and the attitude of consumers towards standby
power use. Standby power loss does not attract
the attention of consumers. Surveys conducted
on households in the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland conclude that raising the
awareness of end-users can reduce standby power
consumption as much as 25 per cent.
This shows that technical solutions can play an
important role by assuring that the settings are
maintained in the appliance or that the “wake-up”
time of the appliance is reduced considerably.
Reasons for emphasizing the need to minimize standby
power losses include: the commercial availability
of technical options; the relatively short replacement
period of appliances concerned; and the considerably
high and unnecessary energy consumption due to
Estimation of Standby Power Losses
national studies have been conducted to estimate
the standby power losses at homes and offices.
Some of these studies are based on field measurements
and others are “bottom-up” estimates.
In the absence of actual measurements, calculations
are based on standby power measurements of appliances
reported in consumer magazines.
types of appliances taken into consideration for
evaluating the total standby power loss are mostly
the common ones found in many countries. The different
categories of appliances include:
- audio and video equipment such TVs, VCRs, tape
cassettes, compact disc (CD) and DVD players,
speakers and sound systems;
- telephony equipment such as cordless telephones,
answering machines, intercoms;
- kitchen appliances such as microwave ovens,
conventional electrical ovens, table top ovens,
rice cookers, bread makers;
- set-top boxes such as analog and digital cable
TV boxes, TV decoders, internet terminals, satellite
- office appliances such as PCs and monitors,
modems, ink jet and laser printers, scanners,
photocopy machines, typewriters;
- battery operated devices that require charging
such as notebook computers, laptop computers,
personal digital assistants (palmtops), hand-held
power tools including vacuum cleaners and shavers;
- miscellaneous home appliances such as security
systems, water treatment units, door openers,
timers, low-voltage halogen lamps, motion sensors.
findings of some recent studies to assess the
standby power losses in selected countries around
the world are summarized below.
average standby and miscellaneous consumption
was found to be 86.8 W or 760 kWh per year per
household in Australia. This amounts to 11.6 per
cent of Australian residential electricity use
in the year 2000. This equals about US$ 200 million
worth of electricity each year, generating 4 million
tonnes of carbon dioxide. Results imply that the
miscellaneous and standby electricity consumption
has grown by 8 per cent per annum from 1994 to
2000 (i.e.; doubling every nine years).
Only about 15 per cent of the appliances were
found “unplugged” during the survey.
A large proportion of appliances consumed power
in both standby and off modes. Many products were
found to have no hard "off" switches.
These included: VCRs, computer peripherals such
as speakers, modems, fax machines, scanners and
printers; audio-visual equipment such as integrated
stereos and DVDs; and an increasing number of
white goods that incorporated “soft touch”
electronic controls. White goods refer to household
appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines,
microwave ovens and table top ovens. Entertainment
equipment and office equipment are referred to
as brown and gray goods, respectively.
peripherals such as scanners, modems and speakers
were found to consume energy in off mode. An emerging
concern is audio-visual equipment (not including
TVs and VCRs) whose standby consumption is high,
averaging 9.5 W, and is expected to grow.
has been a noticeable decrease in standby power
consumption of brown goods, with the average value
for TVs dropping from 16 W in 1991 to just over
5 W in 2001. The average standby consumption of
VCRs has come down from 10 W in 1990 to 4 W in
the past 20 years, the average annual growth rate
in appliance production of China has been 32.1
per cent per annum. The demand for these appliances
continues to increase in the domestic market --
30 million colour TV were sold in 2000. Based
on a preliminary survey in a limited number of
households in China, the mean standby power consumption
is estimated as 29 W. Main contributors to this
standby power are identified as the TV, video
CD (VCD) player and audio systems. Depending on
the model of TV, the standby power varies 2.4-21.1
W, with an average of 9.6W. For VCDs, the standby
losses range 3.4-21.8 W, and the average is 12.9
time period during which the appliances remain
in standby mode is uncertain. Assuming the equipment
to be in standby mode during 10 hours per day,
the total standby losses for the country are estimated
to be 13 billion kWh per year.
measurements were carried out in France during
1998-99 to assess the standby energy use of more
than 70 categories of equipment in 178 households
representing the entire housing stock in terms
of average penetration of specific types of electrical
equipment and average electricity consumption.
The household standby power use was estimated
to range from 29 to 38 W. The annual household
standby electricity consumption was calculated
as 235 kWh per year, which represented 7 per cent
of the total residential electricity consumption
in 1999. Some types of equipment with high standby
power use are summarized in Figure 2.4.2.
Typical standby power losses from electrical appliances
standby power consumption of a typical household
is estimated as 398 kWh per annum; considering
that a household consumes 4,227 kWh per annum
on an average, the standby power accounts for
9.4 per cent of household electricity use. The
main culprit for this high share is identified
as the VCR, which alone accounts for almost a
quarter of the total standby power use. The gas
water heaters and audio combinations account for
another quarter of standby energy. Standby power
losses measured in some typical appliances are
shown in Figure 2.4.3. Standby power losses can
be reduced by almost 43 per cent if the households
replaced their existing appliances with the latest
ones available in the market.
2.4.3 Typical standby power losses from electrical
appliances in Japan
Thailand, although the office equipment is turned
off at night and during weekends, it is left switched
on unnecessarily during the day. The idle periods
for machines were found to be 53 per cent for
computers, 94 per cent for copiers, 96 per cent
for dot-matrix and ink-jet printers, 98 per cent
for laser printers, and 98 per cent for fax machines.
The power consumption of appliances in active
and standby modes is summarized in Figure 2.4.4.
2.4.4 Standby power losses of office appliances in
Most users were unaware of the built-in power
management features of the equipment. If the power
management features were enabled, from 15 to 26
per cent of annual electricity consumption could
be reduced without additional costs.
18.104.22.168 United Kingdom
on field measurements and surveys, the average
standby electricity demand per household was found
to be 32 W. This led to an average annual electricity
consumption of 277 kWh per year per household
(i.e.; 8 per cent of the total electricity use
of the residential sector). An analysis of the
product categories showed that audio-visual products
accounted for 68.6 per cent of standby power use.
VCRs and hi-fidelity audio equipment dominated
with a high share of 65 per cent.
More than half of the users interviewed said they
were willing to switch off appliances if the equipment
could still retain the programme settings. It
is estimated that a proper awareness campaign
among the users could reduce average standby power
consumption from 32 to 24 W and from 277 to 209
kWh per year per household.
22.214.171.124 United States of America
typical home in the United States requires an
average of 50 W of standby power. This amounts
to 440 kWh per year per household (i.e.; 5 per
cent of total residential electricity use). Considering
that there are more than 100 million homes in
the United States, the standby consumption represents
5 GW of power.
range of standby power consumed by a single type
of appliance can be wide due to differences in
features, design, and choice of components. For
example, the standby power of a compact audio
system can vary 1.3-28.6 W. Certain appliances
consume nearly as much power when they are switched
on or switched off. For example, there is practically
no change in power consumption of most digital
TV decoders and many VCR and compact audio equipment.
more recent investigation of standby power use
of 190 appliances in 10 Californian homes showed
that the total standby power in the homes ranged
14-169 W, with an average of 67 W. Standby power
accounted for 5 to 26 per cent of total annual
electricity use, with an average of 9 per cent.
The large variation in standby power of appliances
providing the same services demonstrates the scope
for manufacturers to reduce standby losses without
126.96.36.199 Member Countries of the Organisation for
Economic Development and Cooperation
estimate of the residential standby power consumption
in nine industrialized countries done by the International
Energy Agency (IEA) shows that the average value
varies from 19 W for Switzerland to 100 W for
New Zealand. Consumption of standby power in member
countries of the Organisation for Economic Development
and Cooperation (OECD) has been estimated by assuming
the use of similar appliances and their penetration
levels. Results are presented in Table 2.5.1.
Note that the total standby power demand of the
OECD residential sector amounts to 15 GW (i.e.;
1.5 per cent of total electricity consumption).
The standby energy consumption of OECD countries
is as high as 128 TWh per year.
to the lack of data, it is difficult to estimate
the standby power use in developing countries.
However, with the current trend of high growth
in demand for home and office electronic appliances,
this will become substantially higher if no steps
are taken to create greater awareness among users
and influence manufacturers to incorporate advanced
energy-saving features for equipment in standby
Methods to reduce standby power consumption
are basically two methods to reduce the standby
power consumption: behavioural and technical.
The first one involves better consumer awareness
and education on standby energy consumption. In
some countries, local power utilities conduct
information and motivation campaigns to raise
consumers awareness and encourage the purchase
of equipment with reduced standby consumption.
approach has its share of merits and drawbacks.
It is not easy to convince the end-user of the
economic and environmental benefits of adopting
energy efficiency practices, particularly when
savings are not high at the individual level.
Reaching out to each and every household in a
country requires considerable human and financial
resources. This may be perceived as not the most
cost-effective option for public authorities.
Moreover, manufacturers are incorporating programmable
clocks and timers in more and more appliances
that require continuous flow of electricity, even
when the equipment is not in operation. PCs connected
to a network are required to be in standby mode
to avoid communication problem with peripheral
devices or with the network manager. So it may
sometimes be impractical to ask people to unplug
appliances that are not in use.
2.4.1 Assessment of standby power in the residential
sector of OECD countries
second method of reducing standby power consumption
in many appliances is the adoption of technological
innovations. It is estimated that redesigning
appliance circuits can reduce standby power consumption
up to 90 per cent.
have introduced many power-saving features in
the past decade, particularly for products that
are plugged in all the time. These features are
typically the standby or sleep modes, when an
appliance performs fewer functions or it is waiting
for a signal to be fully operational. It is designed
to go into standby mode in which much less power
is consumed. Some parts of the appliance remain
on standby till the power switch is activated
or input received from a remote control device.
Sleep modes are incorporated into appliances that
are frequently left on by the consumers when not
in use. Some devices have a programming option
for switching off selected components when not
in use for a stipulated time period. This is the
case with portable, laptop, and notebook computers
that go into sleep mode when the keyboard or the
mouse is not used for a time period that can be
set by the user. Most computers in the market
today have two power-saving modes incorporated
in the product design. This allows the machine
to switch off some components after a predefined
time period. If the computer remains unused for
a longer predefined time period, it then enters
into a deep sleep mode by switching off several
these appliances are often delivered to the customer
with the power management features switched off.
Generally, neither the distributor nor the customer
is aware of the possibility of enabling the power
management feature. Sometimes, users who do not
accept long wake up time for recovery, disable
the standby mode. In a survey conducted in office
buildings in Thailand, users had not enabled the
power management features in 90 per cent of computers.
One of the areas where substantial energy is consumed
when the appliance is on standby or switched off
is the power supply system. With the recent innovations,
it is possible to reduce the no-load losses while
providing high conversion efficiencies. New generation
power transformers adopting electronic components
are capable of reducing the standby power consumption
from 5 W to 0.1 W. These transformers are also
far more energy efficient, providing 70 to 75
per cent efficiency compared to the 40 to 45 per
cent of traditional models they replace.
pieces of equipment having bigger and brighter
displays tend to consume more power in standby
mode. Liquid crystal displays are a good alternative
but the quality and colour of display is often
compromised. Thanks to the advances made in light
emitting diodes (LEDs), it is now possible to
have low-power displays without sacrificing the
brightness and colours.
with the huge monetary losses and environmental
impacts of standby power consumption at the national
level, Governments in several countries have initiated
programmes to address the issue. The “Energy
Star” label of the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) for consumer electronic
products takes standby power use into consideration.
A number of similar approaches have been adopted
in other parts of world, particularly in Europe,
Australia, and Japan.
IEA has promoted international action to reduce
standby power consumption of products to 1 W.
These initiatives have, to a large extent, accelerated
the design and development of new consumer electronic
products with low standby power use.
order to lower standby power losses, a variety
of technological solutions are being offered by
manufacturers in electric switches, integrated
circuits, power management software, and advanced
power supplies and charging devices. Some of these
are described below.
The on-off product
simplest solution to obtain zero watt loss is
to place the on-off switch on the primary side
of the power supply or simply pull out the plug
from the socket. However, this may not always
be a practical solution.
most appliances, the on-off switch is placed between
the power supply and the appliance. To minimize
the no-load power loss of the transformer, one
can opt for more efficient power supplies. The
traditional wall adapter design using a linear
supply has low efficiency and high no-load dissipation.
Technical solutions exist to reduce the no-load
power consumption to around 0.1 W, at least for
small power supplies.
example, a new switching-architecture design from
Power Integrations Inc. employs much fewer and
smaller components and an integrated circuit as
a core to develop power supplies featuring 70
to 75 per cent full-load efficiency and 0.1 W
no-load consumption. This new power supply costs
less, occupies less volume and weighs one quarter
that of a conventional unit.
188.8.131.52 The standby product
this category, several products have on-off switches
and a number of others have external power supplies.
As the standby option is a desired feature in
this product, the appliance cannot be switched
off completely. The power loss can be reduced
either by decreasing the standby power consumption
or by using an alternative source such as a photovoltaic
cell or battery to power the standby mode. The
former can be achieved by considering ways at
the designing stage of the appliance in order
to: decrease the number of components to be powered
in the standby mode; and increase the efficiency
of components that are essential for the standby
function. Alternatively, a special standby component
may also be added, such as a smaller power supply
only for maintaining the standby function.
a simple operation, user intervention, manual
or remote, is necessary to put the appliance into
standby. In complex systems, the product itself
can decide to go into standby on the basis of
the period of inactivity. Thanks to the progresses
made in microelectronics, appliances designed
with a power management feature can ensure that
the appliance is always in a state with the lowest
power consumption while satisfying the required
functionality. For this, microprocessors are programmed
to monitor activity levels of several parts of
the appliance and follow certain decision rules
to enter different states (e.g.; standby or sleep
mode). Power management can minimize not only
the standby consumption, but also the power consumption
of the appliance in operating mode.
184.108.40.206 The networked product
manageable network products are required to provide
permanent access to the network; therefore products
cannot switch into standby without notification.
This is the case of small PCs and digital TV decoders.
Such networked products rely on sophisticated
chips to control their operation and have a fairly
complex power management system that responds
well to both external and internal requests. Currently,
such products are left to work all the time.
timer-controlled standby function that can be
programmed through the network to work during
a predefined time period can help reduce power
wastage. However, this may not always be acceptable,
especially when the service of the appliance may
be required at any moment. Industry's focus now
is to develop better power management systems
with very low power levels for networked appliances
that will never be switched off. “Instantly
is an Intel technology initiative that enables
PCs to retain connections and still be aggressively
power managed. End-users’ benefits include
connectivity in the “off” state with
low power consumption, silent operation, and the
possibility of resuming fast instead of rebooting.
While the full power demand is 80 W, the PC requires
only around 5 W in sleep mode.
220.127.116.11 Improving efficiency of components
the efficiency of some components will help to
reduce the standby power as well as the overall
energy consumption of an appliance. In addition
to power supplies, the efficiency of voltage regulators,
integrated circuits and visual displays can be
appliances require various voltage levels to operate
different circuits. Depending on the efficiency
of the voltage regulator, some amount of power
is dissipated as heat. So the power losses increase
with greater numbers of such regulators. Ideally,
the appliance should be designed to have fewer
voltage levels to reduce the number of voltage
regulators. Moreover, efficient voltage regulators
such as the low-dropout types may be adopted to
reduce the power loss effectively. Efficient integrated
circuits have been designed to economize energy
use in battery-operated products. Similar circuits
could be adopted in appliances to limit standby
18.104.22.168 Cost implications of adopting technologies
to reduce standby power
there have been substantial technological innovations
to deal with standby power consumption, it is
difficult to assess the cost implications of bringing
about such changes in the final products. Costs
involved in the redesigning, procurement of alternative
components and manufacturing may affect the final
price the customer has to pay. Thanks to the technological
progresses made, incremental costs to reduce the
standby power of many appliances are quite low.
In some cases, the outcome has been cost savings
and additional benefits.
the proposal of the EPA to limit standby power
of audio and DVD products to 2 W by January 2003
and 1 W after that date, a study was undertaken
to analyze different technology options and their
added costs. It concluded that manufacturers can
meet EPA 2-watt standby power limit without loss
of product performance and at estimated incremental
costs ranging from minus US$2.00 to less than
US$ 0.50 per product unit.
the pace of innovation and market trends, manufacturers
should meet the EPA 1-watt specification without
loss of product performance at no incremental
cost per product unit. In some cases, cost savings
are possible with the adoption of high-end switches
or shifting from vacuum fluorescent displays to
liquid crystal displays that can reduce the standby
load and allow the manufacturers to select less
expensive power supplies.
when technological improvements have minimal impacts
on pricing, the incremental costs are multiplied
several-fold in the retail market. Manufacturers
are therefore reluctant to add any cost to their
products for fear that price-conscious customers
may opt for a competing model that costs less.
Policies to curtail standby power
the technological advances and falling prices
in the electronic sector, one can expect greater
proliferation of home and office electrical products
in developing and industrialized countries. Standby
power use can be expected to account for an even
greater share of electricity in the future. Eliminating
unnecessary electricity losses from standby consumption
certainly provides an attractive option for Governments
struggling to find financial resources to cope
with rapid growth in power demand and those looking
for alternatives to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
in a cost-effective manner.
policy instruments addressing different stakeholders
and different levels of action can be used to
tackle the problem of standby power losses. Traditional
policy instruments at the disposal of Governments
can be classified into four categories:
- administrative instruments intervening in direct
regulatory restriction of market activities and
dictating to various groups of stakeholders certain
product-related action (e.g.; setting minimum
standards or rules as well as the duty to label
- economic instruments creating a general setting
for free market activities (e.g.; taxes and charges,
licenses, subsidies and incentives) and influencing
the purchasing patterns of public organizations
or large institutions so their actions impact
on the market;
- negotiating solutions, agreements and co-operative
deals, voluntary self-obligations, and general
voluntary agreements between business community
and Government by which both parties hope for
- information instruments such as general customer
awareness campaigns and product information by
independent testing organizations.
instruments actually selected by public authorities
are much influenced by the specific socio-economic
conditions prevailing in the country. Lately,
businesses and industry are showing due concern
and interest regarding the environmental impact
of their economic activities and have taken proactive
steps to address national and global concerns.
This has resulted in better co-operation between
industry and Government to eliminate the least
efficient products from the market and introduce
new technologies that assure low power consumption.
The policy tools adopted by various Governments
are elaborated below.
efficiency standards are procedures and regulations
that are widely used around the world to define
the energy performance of products that are important
energy consumers. Most users of home appliances
are not concerned about energy efficiency and
make purchasing decisions by taking into consideration
features other than energy, such as size, shape,
colour, overall performance, price, etc. Manufacturers
naturally focus on those parameters during the
designing and production process and do not generally
make adequate efforts to improve the energy efficiency
of their products. Standards ensure that efficiency
is incorporated into product design. In some instances,
the sale of products not adhering to the minimum
standard is prohibited.
aiming to eliminate less energy efficient products
from the market, standards take into consideration
the cost-effective feature to achieve the target
set. This assures good acceptance and effective
implementation of the regulation by the industry
and results in large energy savings.
change the behaviour of a limited number of manufacturers
instead of aiming at changing the behaviour of
all end-users. The energy savings achieved in
practice are generally assured and can be easily
quantified. While implementing standards, all
manufacturers, distributors and retailers are
efficiency standards exist in many parts of the
world for household appliances and office equipment
that consume high amounts of energy in active
mode. But only a few of them include criteria
for measuring the standby power used. The only
existing standard for standby power that is purely
regulatory is the “Top Runner” programme
the Swiss energy regulations, the first phase
of regulation consists of voluntary agreements.
If voluntary agreements do not meet their objectives,
ordinances are put in place to enforce energy
standby power consumption, the Government of Switzerland
has established voluntary agreements with two
industrial associations. Target values related
to standby and "off" mode energy consumption
of 12 different categories of products were put
in place between 1993 and 1995 with target dates
from 1995 to 1999. From 1 January 1999, the new
energy law has superceded the energy consumption
regulations while it still retains the target
the end of the defined period, 53 per cent of
household appliances and 97 per cent of office
equipment had met the targets. The average standby
power consumption of new printers fell from 17
W in 1994 to 7 W in 1999. Although 40 per cent
of the printers had reduced their standby power
use below 4 W, none of them had attained the target
of 2 W.
effectiveness and acceptability of standards depend
a lot on the time allocated between the development
of standards and their implementation. This is
particularly relevant in the context of standby
power because the technology is evolving rapidly
which can change the achievable standard within
a very short span of time.
the standard enforcement period is long, there
is risk of the standard becoming obsolete before
it is implemented. On the other hand, if there
is compulsion to implement standards too rapidly,
industry would find it difficult to cope with
the required technological changes and the unacceptable
costs associated with it.
agreements between industry and Government enable
industry to negotiate goals that are achievable
and cost-effective within a proposed time frame.
If targets are too strict, industry will not be
attracted towards a voluntary programme. On the
other hand, lenient targets will not achieve significant
savings. Experiences show that voluntary agreements
have become very effective and flexible instruments
in many parts of the world, particularly in minimizing
the compliance costs to the industry. In some
cases, the targets have not only been met but
exceeded within the agreed time period.
and reporting are the two key elements in voluntary
agreements as they can be effective in creating
greater awareness. Some voluntary agreements require
mandatory monitoring and reporting while others
depend on the self-assessment of industries themselves.
Another example is the contracting of a third
party organization to monitor compliance with
more and more products are being sold internationally,
industry is evolving voluntary standards for their
universal acceptance and to facilitate global
trade. Industry trade associations have been instrumental
in setting voluntary standards and developing
and adopting test methods for products. They take
into account the needs of consumers as well as
acceptability by public regulators. Typical examples
of such associations actively involved in evolving
industrial standards are the American Association
of Mechanical Engineers, the British Standards
Institution and the Japanese Industrial Standards.
Japanese industry associations are very active
in launching voluntary activities to reduce standby
power consumption. The Japan Electronics and Information
Technology Industries Association, the Japan Electrical
Manufacturers’ Association, and the Japan
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Association
have pledged to reduce the standby power consumption
of TVs, air conditioners, audio systems, and other
household electrical appliances. For example,
the standby power use of products in which standby
power is integral to design will be reduced to
1 W or lower by the end of 2003 (for air conditioners
the target is end of 2004). For other major household
electrical appliances, the aim is to attain values
as close to zero as possible by the end of 2003.
labelling is a convenient tool for providing required
information to the consumer for making purchase
decisions and selecting efficient models. Energy-efficiency
labels are affixed to manufactured products to
describe their energy performances. The effectiveness
of energy labels depends on how information is
presented to the consumer. Most appliances sold
in the market should be labelled instead of only
a few products. If consumers do not make an effort
to distinguish between efficient and inefficient
appliances, increased awareness and labelling
may not have much effect.
labelling can provide an effective way to monitor
the market and compile information on market transformation.
Public authorities and power utilities can use
labels as energy efficiency benchmarks to offer
incentives for buying energy efficient products.
labelling can carry different types of information.
It can be related to only the energy performance
of the equipment or to its many other attributes.
Some labels include environmental criteria, such
as the environmental impact of using a specific
product, and are known as eco-labels. Mostly popular
in Europe, these eco-labels often include the
electrical power consumption of the device during
operating and in standby modes. Examples of such
voluntary eco-labels include the one promoted
by the European Union, the Baluer Engel (or the
Blue Angel) in Germany, and the Nordic Swan scheme
in Finland, Norway and Sweden.
most widely recognized labelling programme in
the world is the Energy Star program in the United
States. Operated jointly by the EPA and Department
of Energy, the programme establishes partnerships
to promote products that meet certain energy efficiency
and performance criteria cost-effectively.
to the EPA, more than 100 million Energy Star
compliant products were sold in the United States
in 1999 alone. As many Energy Star compliant products
are designed and manufactured by global multinational
corporations and sold worldwide, consumers in
almost all parts of the world recognize the Energy
Star logo. In fact, the EPA has licensed the Energy
Star trademark to several countries, including
Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan Province
of China. Negotiations are underway with the European
Union and Canada.
Europe, the Group for Energy Appliances (GEA)
was initially started as a voluntary programme
in 1996 (now established as a foundation since
May 2001) in order to improve the efficiency of
mainly home electric and electronic appliances.
With a membership of energy agencies from eight
European countries and the European Energy Network,
GEA aims at uniform communication and co-operation
between European public and private energy agencies
or organizations and relevant parties, such as
manufacturers, importers and the European Commission.
GEA member undertakes information campaigns that
suit the national consumer market. The GEA scheme
is dynamic as criteria are revised regularly in
close cooperation with the industry involved.
GEA works in good partnership with industry and
industrial associations. The GEA label is voluntary
in nature, which indicates that appliances have
energy performances that are within 25 per cent
of the most efficient products sold in the market.
22.214.171.124 Other complementing policies
policies complementing the ones described above
include market transformation initiatives, technology
procurement programmes, introduction of economic
instruments, awareness campaigns, database development,
etc. For example, the IEA is developing an initiative
on International Collaboration on Market Transformation,
with the main objective of increasing the market
share of energy-saving products and accelerating
the use of the most efficient technologies. The
focus is on energy rating, labelling, quality
marks, and procurement of energy-efficiency products.
The initiative will include information exchange
and research and cooperative market transformation
projects that will allow interested countries
to jointly participate in accelerating market
procurement programmes encourage innovation by
guaranteeing the purchase of very efficient products
by large institutions and private companies. Due
to the size of bulk purchase contracts the cost
of the product can be lowered considerably. Moreover,
the publicity gained by the technology supplier
through the procurement programme helps to enhance
the visibility and marketability of the product.
Since technology procurement is aimed at bringing
in significant innovations in the design of the
product, the time period between the launching
of a procurement contract and delivery of product
can be lengthy. This can lead to some uncertainties
in the mind of the buyer about when the product
will actually be delivered and whether it will
meet the defined energy efficiency criteria.
instruments can provide incentive to the consumer
for saving energy through the purchase of more
efficient appliances. Typical instruments include
energy taxes, tax credits, fees and rebates, etc.
taxes increase the cost of energy and the energy
bill of the consumer. Their effectiveness depends
on the response of the consumer in adopting energy
cost saving alternatives. If demand for energy
efficient appliances increases and the manufacturer
makes efforts to meet this demand, then energy
tax becomes an effective tool.
shows that energy taxes alone do not have a significant
impact on the energy efficiency of a product.
Tax credit or tax exemption measures are found
to be more effective in influencing the decision-making
of consumers by providing them direct financial
incentives and increasing the demand for energy
raise the cost of energy efficient products and
rebates reward consumers for buying more efficient
products. When the two instruments are combined,
the fees collected from the sale of inefficient
products can be channeled to finance rebates for
efficient products. Rebates have been offered
by power utilities in several countries to encourage
the use of efficient electrical appliances and
avoid the construction of expensive power plants
that would have been required to meet the high
demand during utility peak periods.
2.4.5 Future directions
and need for international collaboration
gained around the globe show that voluntary labelling
seems to be the most widely accepted measure for
addressing the issue of standby power losses.
Positive interaction and partnership between Government
and industry have led to substantial, innovative
technological progress. Targets have been set
realistically and met cost-effectively.
the success of various initiatives reported, much
needs to be done to include all devices that consume
standby power and to push the majority of these
products to reach the 1-watt goal in standby mode.
Most initiatives thus far do not separately deal
with the issue of standby power use. They are
generally considered as an added feature to the
energy efficiency standards and labels of the
electronic industry is evolving swiftly and standby
power consumption is expected to rise further
with the proliferation of new electronic products
and development of networked homes and offices.
There is a consensus among policy makers and stakeholders
that it should be possible to decrease the standby
power consumption for considerably less than it
would take to build power plants to provide that
standby power. An added advantage of such electricity
savings will be the cost-effective reduction of
carbon dioxide emissions.
are several global players involved in manufacturing
and distributing home and office electrical/electronic
products. Differences in standards and their implementation
criteria laid out in different countries can create
hurdles for these players who have to spend more
time and resources to comply with the specific
requirements of each country. With present market
conditions, products manufactured in one country
are often distributed in many others; producers
have to plan their production schedule for manufacturing
several versions of the same appliance according
to the demand. Due to the fierce competition in
the market, any increase in production costs for
complying with standby power regulations cannot
be easily passed on to consumers.
problem is further complicated by the fact the
electronic industry changes rapidly and introduce
to the market an ever increasing number of new
products. It will be difficult for individual
countries to cope with the rapid changes taking
place in the market.
drawbacks call for co-ordinated efforts among
countries for developing universally accepted
solutions that can transform the market and encourage
manufacturers to employ low-loss designs and components.
Such international co-operation can reduce and
streamline regulations and policies that vary
from one country to another, thereby also reducing
the administrative burdens and associated costs
on government programmes. In addition, they will
help manufacturers to reach economies of scale
for adopting advanced standby technologies and
management features into their products. By undertaking
in-depth analysis of the current situation at
the global level in terms of the dynamics of the
market, major players, main barriers, and other
factors, we can forecast future market trends,
technological innovations, introduction of new
products and market volume.
of duplicating efforts, existing regional and
international forums and programmes can be used
as platforms for addressing standby power loss
issues. For example, the Asia Pacific Economic
Cooperation has an action programme for energy
that is working towards common action on standards
and protocols. The objectives are to harmonize
the energy standards of products and appliances
to reduce costs to both governments and businesses.
Similarly, IEA, which primarily deals with energy
issues for developed countries, can provide legal
frameworks for international cooperation and facilitate
the evolution of an international approach to
collaboration should aim to establish an international
voluntary programme that takes into account the
views and achievements of industries as well as
governments and harmonizes the existing regulatory
schemes. It will help to avoid the proliferation
of labels and labelling schemes launched by individual
countries and reduce the confusion created for
the industry. Considering the adoption of the
Energy Star programme by several countries and
and on-going negotiations with other governments
to also adopt the programme, it seems to be achieving
global acceptance. An international Energy Star
programme would define the limits of standby power
use and harmonize existing regulatory schemes,
such as the Top Runner Programme.
in the Asia and Pacific region who have just realized
the magnitude of the problem and/or have not yet
set up policies and programmes to deal with standby
power losses can actively support and participate
in such an international voluntary programme that
- develop guidelines for lowering standby power
consumption of existing as well as new appliances
- enhance voluntary agreements with the industry;
- initiate research and development activities
with industry participation to explore new techno-economic
solutions to reduce standby power use; and
- help revise the existing energy labels of appliances
to include information on standby power use. (No
need is perceived for evolving a separate label
for indicating the standby power use of appliances).
will allow the countries of the region to concentrate
their efforts on educating and informing consumers
about the issue of standby power, thus accelerating
the demand for energy efficient products and appliances.
Mungwittitkul and B. Mohanty (1997), Energy efficiency
of office equipment in commercial buildings: The
case of Thailand, Energy, Vol. 22, No. 7, pp.
Meier (1999), Standby power - A quiet use of energy,
CADDET Energy Efficiency Newsletter, No. 4, 1999
Matsunaga (2001), Survey on actual standby power
consumption of households, 3rd International Workshop
on Standby Power, Tokyo, 7-8 February 2001
Rath et al (2000), Climate protection through
reduction of standby losses in electric appliances
and equipment, Second International Workshop on
Standby Power, Brussels, 18 January 2000
Energy Agency (IEA) (2001), Things that go blip
in the night, Standby power and how to limit it,
Sasako (2001), Standby power consumption of household
electrical appliances in Japan, Third International
Workshop on Standby Power, Tokyo, 7-8 February
Vowles (2001), Standby consumption levels and
user awareness in the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Northern Ireland domestic sector,
3rd International Workshop on Standby Power, Tokyo,
Harrington and Paula Kleverlaan (2001), Quantification
of residential standby power consumption in Australia:
Results of recent survey works, Project for the
Australian Greenhouse Office, Australia, March
Jiang et al (2001), Measurement of standby power
in Chinese homes, Third International Workshop
on Standby Power, Tokyo, 7-8 February
Sidler (2000), Campagne de mesures sur le fonctionnement
en veille des appareils domestiques, Report No.
99.07.092, ADEME, France
Rainer et al (1996), Leaking electricity in homes,
Proceedings of ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency
in Buildings, American Council for an Energy-Efficient
Ross and Alan Meier (2000), Proceedings of the
Second International Conference on Energy Efficiency
in Household Appliances, Naples, September
Schweber (1999), Drop by drop, “Green”
design saves buckets of ac power, EDN Magazine,
Cadmus Group Inc. (1998), Power supply and load
reduction technology options for audio equipment
manufacturers to meet the Energy Star specifications,
EPA Contract No. 68-W6-0050, December
Electrotechnical Federation (1999), Power consumption
target values for electrical and electronic equipment,
Bulletin of the Swiss Electrotechnical Federation,
Hirano (2001), Current energy conservation policies
of Japan, Third International Workshop on Standby
Power, Tokyo, 7-8 February
Brown et al (2000), Status and future directions
of the Energy Star programme, Proceedings of the
2000 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in
Buildings, Washington, District of Columbia
Return to top