(Published in The Interaction Point, March 7, 2003

Electronic equipment and small appliances often consume electricity even when they are not being used. This situation is commonly called standby power. Executive Order 13221, issued by President Bush in July 2001, calls for Federal agencies to purchase products that use less than one watt of standby power when such products are available and are cost effective.

Standby power supplies are responsible for electricity consumption in idle mode and these devices come in two forms—those that are external and those that are internal to the other electronics.

The external devices have earned the name vampires because they have two teeth (the prongs of the plug) and suck electricity. They are also known as low voltage transformers, adapters and power supplies.

The external devices (the plug-in black boxes) represent approximately 20 percent of the market while internal devices, those that are built into the product, represent the overwhelming majority (80 percent) of the market.

Some of the products that use energy while in the standby mode include: cell phones, telephones, laptop computers, desk top computers, computer monitors, television sets, VCRs, DVDs, cable boxes, fax machines, copiers, printers, scanners, cordless power tools and walkie-talkies.

New technologies make it possible to substantially reduce standby power use without affecting any of the services that consumers have come to expect of the product. Limiting standby energy can save money and decrease carbon emission into the environment.

Please consider the low standby power criteria when purchasing new electronic devices and appliances that have standby power.

For more information about the devices and to obtain access to the product database, see the SLAC Energy Management Web site (http://www.slac.stanford.edu/slac/energy/) under Standby Power Data or go directly to the Federal Energy Management Program Web site at http://www.eere.energy.gov/femp/procurement/eep_standby_power.cfm.

–Luda Fieguth