Standby power use: How big is the problem? What policies and technical
solutions can address it?
Standby power, as defined in this paper, is the electricity consumed by end-use electrical equipment when it is switched off or not performing its main function. Standby power consumption represents an increasing fraction of energy use in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries; the rapid penetration of new and digital technology is likely to accelerate the growth of standby power use. Standby power is currently estimated to account for about 3 to 10 percent of home and office electricity use. Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) launched a worldwide initiative to reduce standby power consumption, and there is general agreement that action is urgently needed to avoid large increases in standby power use. Reduction of standby power consumption worldwide could reduce CO2 emissions by one percent. A number of OECD countries and regions already have policies to address standby power use; other regions have launched policy initiatives in response to IEA's recent international workshops on standby power. Global policy efforts are needed to influence manufacturers, who generally produce and market products worldwide, to reduce the standby power consumption of their products. Some leading manufacturers are already responding to global calls to reduce standby power consumption by developing new technologies and products.The paper presents the most recent figures on standby consumption in OECD countries and China; discusses trends, details of national strategies, policies to reduce standby consumption, and technical solutions; and concludes with a renewed call for international efforts to reduce standby power consumption.