Inactive devices continue consuming a surprising amount of energy, increasing household electricity bills, be they off, in standby, or ‘networked’ standby mode

Despite technological progress, products still waste too much energy in standby, or even off mode. In addition, the number of electronics, appliances, and other equipment permanently connected to the internet is exploding, driving up electricity consumption.

This “always-on” energy use by inactive devices is expected to reach 14TWh by 2020 in the EU. That’s equivalent to the electricity consumption of almost 4 million EU households!

What’s the European Union doing?

A first EU Ecodesign regulation was passed in 2008 to limit the consumption of a number of appliances in standby and off modes. It also stipulated that products have an automatic power down to stand-by mode after 20 minutes. In 2013, the regulation was amended to introduce requirements on networked standby consumption.

With these two regulations, Europe will save 71 TWh by 2020, equivalent to the residential electricity consumption of Spain, and lower energy bills by up to €7.8 billion annually.

Since 2016, the Commission has been looking at revising these thresholds. New products could also be covered, such as adjustable furniture and local building controls. The updated rules are likely to be part of the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling package of measures to be adopted by the end of 2018. 

What does the Coolproducts campaign want? 

  • Attention should be paid to the standby consumption of professional and commercial equipment. It has great energy savings potential, and there is no justification why such equipment should not be regulated if domestic appliances are.

  • Apply more stringent requirements than the ones in discussion, as the best products on the market already reach very low standby and network standby levels.

  • Inform and give users the option to deactivate wireless functions on their products (for both energy and health reasons), even if it reduces a part of the product’s functionalities.

Coolproducts' technical input and position papers:

2018 - Position on standby and networked standby proposals

2015 - Comments on the preparatory study for the review of the Ecodesign Regulation

2015 - Exploring the potential for standby requirements on professional products

Further reading: