The Utility Costs of Standby

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The Utility Costs of Standby

How your appliances are costing you much more money than you probably realize

Think about how many things you have plugged into outlets in your home. If you’re like most people, this probably consists of TVs, computers, appliances, and several other items. And even if most of them are currently not on, you may be surprised to learn that they still consume energy. This is because many of them operate in standby mode.

What is standby mode?

Many electrical devices in your home are basically sitting and waiting for you to use them. This is why things come on so quickly; when you push the power button on your remote, your TV or DVD player responds immediately. And while convenient, standby mode wastes quite a bit of energy. According to, standby power uses 5 to 10 percent of all power consumed in homes the U.S.

How much is this wasted energy costing you exactly?

Five to ten percent may not seem like a lot, but it can certainly add up. A paper from the National Resources Defense Council reveals some pretty startling numbers. For one thing, the average home in the U.S. now has 65 devices, and most of them are always on even if they’re in the “off” position. Every year, almost $20 billion worth of energy is used by these items, which equates to about $165 per household in America.

Which items are the worst?

When it comes to wasted energy, there are several culprits. Cable boxes, computers, and microwaves are all on the list. But there is also one that often goes ignored: the HVAC system. While not plugged in as, say, your toaster oven is, your HVAC is always connected to your home’s power grid. And, unlike, most things in your home, you can’t just unplug it to save energy and money.

One solution to the “vampire” HVAC

A central air system may be the easiest way to heat or cool a home, but it’s almost certainly one of the reasons why your energy bills are high every month. More numbers from show that the ducts in a central air system can account for over 30 percent of wasted power. And air conditioners by themselves can use 50 watts of power in standby mode, while furnaces can use 40 watts. Fortunately, there is a better option for keeping your home at the best temperature: a ductless mini-split.

And ironically, in this case, ductless mini splits save energy and gain efficiency by never being on standby or maybe always being on standby – depending on the way you look at it. Most traditional HVAC systems shut off and then turn on at full blast. In contrast, a ductless mini split stays on all the time, but simply runs at a lower speed that dynamically adjusts up or down depending on the setting and placement of the remote, which is the thermostat. This helps net gains in efficiency.

Plus, these systems operate in individual areas (zones) in a home. This means that you don’t have to worry about the empty parts of your home getting that precious warm or cool air; the system only runs faster if you are actually using a room.

Another big benefit of a ductless mini split system is specified in its name: it doesn’t use ducts. This will further improve energy efficiency and – most importantly – cut your costs. Ducts have the potential for blockage or leakage, depending on how old they are or what gets in them, and the travel through the system alters the temperature of the air. Removing this network of ducts means efficiency gains and lower maintenance required to keep them running that way. Ductless systems also offer other benefits, including improved air quality, excellent comfort, and a reduction of a household’s carbon footprint.

A comfortable climate is essential for every home, but you don’t have to sacrifice as much efficiency to achieve it. To learn more about upgrading to a ductless mini split, get in touch with ComfortUp.