Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Standby Saver - get rid of the red lights!

OK. So. Electricity prices went up 25% here, at the start of this year. Thats quite painful. Add to that that one of my pet hates is wastefulness in general, and you've got a bit of a challenge.

How much can I reduce our electricity bill over the course of the year, and how much will it cost me to do it? We already mostly use energy saving bulbs (will post separately on that), so the first obvious port of call was devices which sit on standby.

First, a quick bit of maths. The telly is target #1, as it gets quite warm, and in the lounge, the Wii, TV and DVD player are all on standby (so is the Sky+ box, but that doesn't work properly if you keep turning it off - because it doesn't store Anytime programs - very irritating).

A quick bit of guesstimated maths. An "energy saving recommended" LCD TV must use no more than 1.5 Watts of power in standby mode, so lets take a midline figure - 1W. Lets round that off, and call it 9kWh a year for arguments sake. Thats about £1.20. Oh. Thats pretty crap for a saving in a year. I carried on in the same vein, looking at the Wii (expensive if the little yellow light is on, which ours was), which we'll call approx £12, plus the DVD player - another £1.80ish.

So far, thats £15 a year. Not good.

We got a standby saver (as seen on Dragons Den) - http://www.standby-saver.com/ - which claims on the box that we could save upto £43 a year. Not right in our case, however, if we had a few more devices plugged in, you can see how it could easily add up - we have no hi-fi in there, for a start. But we only paid £21.95 for the gadget at Lakeland, so we should be quids in within 18 months. Not to mention the environmental benefits. Imagine if everyone did this!

In pure product terms, it was very easy to set up, has a little infrared detector which allows it to operate off the TV remote, and frankly you don't notice that its there. Two sockets with independant switches are provided, excluded from the saving functionality (i.e. for Sky+).

Fab. Highly recommended. If you have another console, VCR (??), Hi-Fi, etc also plugged in, you could save all the cash well within the first year.


Kev said...

hahah Matt, you are forgetting a couple of things there ;) pc, monitor, as you know most of the usage is from the life sucking psu, not good.

I agree though that the utilities companies are really taking the piss though. They should be reducing bills not putting them up, they will end up killing older people in the winter times who cannot afford the increasing bills despite them getting the measly government heating allowances.

It's like the petrol prices starting to go back up now.

Even if the utility companies have reduced their prices they are still far too high, I can appreciate you pay for what you use, but it seems they are holding you to ransom.

Grumpy said...

Yea, I do agree about prices going up and up - although generally thats inflation, it always seems steeper when its on fuels + other 'essentials' (interesting what we think is essential mind you).

I'll get getting to the pc, monitor etc in due time - have got a standby saver for the office (diff brand, so will be blogging separately), as well as lights throughout - then the kitchen, etc - stay tuned ;)

StripyPixieSocks said...

Having way too many Firefighter friends it has been drilled into me NEVER to leave ANYTHING on standby EVER as it is one of the leading causes of fires and fatalities!

Also, try getting yourself one of those little plug in power monitors which plug into the wall socket and then whatever you are using plugs into that... some things use almost as much electricity in standby mode as it does when you are actually using it!

I too am sick of being held to ransome by Utility companies who care very little about the people who simply cannot afford their every spiraling price hikes. We live in a 1 bedroomed flat where we use very little central heating and still our bills are through the roof! Some people are able (with a different company) to heat 4 bedroomed houses with the heating on all winter for what we pay!

If you ring up and ask them to quantify their prices you get all kinds of bizarre calculations in place to confuse you enough not to question their prices.

Another good thing to do is put your meter readings into their online reading sites because it forces them to use your correct readings and not use their (usually extremely over-inflated) estimates and your bill should start to come down!

We started doing it when they told us we were using almost twice the electricity and gas we were last year which we blatantly aren't. In December we started putting in meter readings and OH... LOOK, we are actually using half as much as last year... funny that eh?

I could rant about the scamming sh*tes all day but I think that's enough for now!

JerseyJon said...

Hi Matt

You have started down a very addictive route.

I would strongly recommend an energy monitor as a starting point. ie an Owl or similar:
http://www.theowl.com/shop/ Best £35 I have spent in a long time. It really does make you see whether it is the standby items of old inefficient PCs etc causing the problem. And if you stick it by the front door, it will let you instantly see if you left something on.

In my case, an old very power hungry pc that did not go to 'sleep' properly was a big offender and the halogen spots. Both have been changed out.

Re the power saver you found, personally I found this overly expensive. Much cheaper and more powerful is the Home Easy range (available at B&Q). eg http://buyhomeeasy.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=2&products_id=65&osCsid=db1c47a60b4ad7faa5ca9fd118d86028

With this set up, i have used the timer to even switch off things like Sky. I realised I dont need it during the night or when I am work, but I do want the instant gratification on standby to not have to wait for 5 mins for sky to boot up. So, using the timer, it is off during the day and middle of the night and switches on before I get home so I dont even realise things were off.
Using the method, you can get most of the standby things in your home off for up to 18 hours a day and not have any downside in functionality.
Different apporaches will work for different people, but the home easy range is quite fun gadget wise - remote control for your lights, timers etc., and all for cheaper than one standby strip.


janis said...

I've just bought a fantastic little gadget. It's an adaptor plug that powers down all my office equipment when I switch off my computer. It's called a standby saver or powerdown plug - fantastic invention!

Grumpy said...

@janis - I've got a standby saver in the lounge (on the telly, wii, etc) - and it works well.

I also have one by a different brand (Intellipanel) on the PC - because it has various peripheral sockets, etc, so the monitor and all other bits/bobs go off when the PC does.

Interestingly plugging a device into USB causes the whole thing to power up - so I turn it on in the morning by connecting my phone!