Last updateFri, 23 Oct 2020 11am

Leaving appliances on standby can cost you plenty

From September, electronic appliances sold in Mexico that use a “sleep” or “standby” mode will be subject to new federal regulations.

Huge quantities of electricity are wasted each year by equipment (DVDs, televisions, stereos, computers, kitchen appliances, etc.) left on standby, studies show.  In 2007 the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that standby produced one percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The new norm (Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-032-ENER-201) will limit the amount of standby power permitted in Mexico to a maximum of two watts, depending on the device.

This is more, however, than the IEA’s 2010 “One-Watt Initiative” designed to reduce standby power-use by any appliance to not more than one watt in 2010, and 0.5 watts in 2013.

Currently, the average sleep mode output for an appliance in Mexico is 24 watts.  (This varies according to the age of the device.)  Some studies show that the average household in Mexico consumes 160 kWh a year of standby power, totaling around 500 pesos.  (Each watt of power consumed by a device running continuously consumes about 9kWh per year.)

Nearly all appliances continue to draw a small amount of power – often referred to as “phantom” or “vampire” loads – even when they are switched off. The only way this can be avoided is by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.

Recent European Union regulations have been introduced for both standby and off-modes. These norms that took effect last year limit power for passive standby to a maximum of one watt for passive standby and 0.5 watts for off-mode.

Equipment sold in Europe is also required to offer a power management function, which switches the equipment to off mode or standby mode after the shortest possible period.

Under Mexico’s new regulations, all appliances will be required to display their standby electricity output on the packaging.

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