Standby power

Standby power is also known as leaking electricity, vampire power, and phantom loads. It can account for up to 10 per cent of all electricity used in a Canadian home.

Most devices use a relatively small amount of electricity when in Off mode to maintain certain functions such as timers and clocks. Most home electronics use between 0.5 to over 25 watts of standby power.

Across Canada standby power consumption totals approximately 5.4 terawatt-hours – that’s 5,400,000,000 kWh. If every home in Canada switched to ENERGY STAR® certified electronics to reduce standby power consumption to 1 watt or less, Canada would save 3.9 terawatt-hours; that is equivalent to the electrical consumption of all households in Manitoba and Prince Edward Island combined.

Effects of standby energy

Electronics and appliances that use standby power add heat to your home year round. This heat assists your heating system in the winter and creates additional load for your air conditioner in the summer. Overall, reducing standby power saves energy for half of the year (spring, summer, and fall).

Unplugging electronics that use standby power or replacing them with ENERGY STAR® certified products that use up to 50 per cent less power in standby mode than conventional models will reduce your total annual energy consumption.

The value of the energy savings from reducing your standby power consumption will vary significantly depending on:

  • the cost of energy used to heat your home;
  • the seasonal efficiency of your heating system;
  • whether or not your home is air conditioned.

For more information on standby power, visit the Natural Resources Canada website.