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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Getting rid of standby power hogs

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An appliance that has a standby mode can use anywhere between 1 watt and 20 watts, with the average being about 5 watts.

We already know that switching off at the wall can prevent this energy use without much inconvenience for us. But what if your computer could be made more efficient, so that it uses only 1 watt when in standby, instead of the 14 watt average for a desktop PC?

The Federal government is in the process of bringing in a 'one watt target' for all appliances and devices. The idea is that by 2012, you can guarantee that your appliance will be a standby sipper instead of a standby guzzler.

For the moment, products that already have an energy star rating (like washing machines, dishwashers, air-conditioners) have got standby power use included in that rating. TVs have got a voluntary labelling system in place. The government is going to be working with manufacturers to make sure that they all comply with the new targets.

I think this is a great idea - it's not like anyone goes out to buy a new TV and thinks "Gee, I'd really like a TV that has a great picture, is affordable, and sucks power even when I'm not using it". We want the best value for money, so making sure there aren't any inefficient products out there is a good start.

So next time I'm buying something that plugs into the wall, I'm going to ask about how energy-efficient it is, and check that standby power is included in that measurement.