Energy Cost of Stand-by Appliances

How much is standby power costing you?

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In this Canstar Blue guide, we take a look at the standby costs of common household appliances. We look at these as hourly and annual costs by state and territory.

Standby power or ‘phantom load’ as it’s sometimes called, refers to electricity that is consumed by appliances left on standby mode. It essentially means you’re paying for electricity that you’re not even using. So how much does it cost your household?

We calculate the standby costs of some common household appliances, as well as how to reduce them, below.

How much does standby power cost?

Power / Standby Button on Remote Control

According to Canstar Blue data, standby power could cost you as little as 0.03c per hour for a computer monitor to as much as 0.54c per hour for a smart TV, depending on a myriad of factors, including your location, the rate you pay for power and the energy efficiency rating of your appliance.

The costs above only refer to one appliance in use, but it is likely that households would have multiple appliances potentially using standby power at any time. To help your understanding of standby power costs throughout the home, we have listed some common household appliances and their hourly standby usage amounts and costs.

Hourly standby power costs by appliance in each state and territory

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Appliance Hourly standby usage (Watts) National Average Sydney Melbourne Brisbane Adelaide Perth Hobart Darwin Canberra
Smart TV 12W 0.40c 0.42c 0.32c 0.37c 0.54c 0.37c 0.35c 0.34c 0.32c
Microwave 4W 0.13c 0.14c 0.11c 0.12c 0.18c 0.12c 0.12c 0.11c 0.11c
Games console 9W 0.30c 0.32c 0.24c 0.28c 0.40c 0.28c 0.27c 0.25c 0.24c
DVD player 3W 0.10c 0.11c 0.08c 0.09c 0.13c 0.09c 0.09c 0.08c 0.08c
Computer monitor 1W 0.03c 0.04c 0.03c 0.03c 0.04c 0.03c 0.03c 0.03c 0.03c
Washing machine 4W 0.13c 0.14c 0.11c 0.12c 0.18c 0.12c 0.12c 0.11c 0.11c
Air conditioner 2W 0.07c 0.07c 0.05c 0.06c 0.09c 0.06c 0.06c 0.06c 0.05c
Wireless modem 10W 0.33c 0.35c 0.27c 0.31c 0.45c 0.31c 0.30c 0.28c 0.26c

Source: www.canstarblue.com.au – 16/10/2023. Based on single rate electricity plans on Canstar’s database; excluding solar-only plans. Electricity usage cost estimates based on average electricity usage rates: 35.4c/kWh in Sydney, 26.6c/kWh in Melbourne, 31.2c/kWh in Brisbane, 44.9c/kWh in Adelaide, 30.8c/kWh in Perth, 29.5c/kWh in Hobart, 28.1c/kWh in Darwin, 26.4c/kWh in Canberra and 33.0c/kWh overall. Table assumes standby usage 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Standby power consumption based on data from various sources.

As shown in the table above, the most expensive appliances for standby power are typically tech devices, such as your TV and game console. Wireless modems can also add a hefty amount to your energy bill, though it’s not technically on standby and it might be impractical for you to switch off the internet every night.

That said, you can see how these small standby electricity expenses can add up when forgotten about. So how much could standby costs be adding your energy bill each year? We’ve taken a look at the annual costs for these devices, using the same metrics as the table above.

Annual standby power costs by appliance in each state and territory

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Appliance Hourly standby usage (Watts) National Average Sydney Melbourne Brisbane Adelaide Perth Hobart Darwin Canberra
Smart TV 12W $34.69 $37.21 $27.96 $32.80 $47.20 $32.39 $31.01 $29.55 $27.75
Microwave 4W $11.56 $12.40 $9.32 $10.93 $15.73 $10.80 $10.34 $9.85 $9.25
Games console 9W $26.02 $27.91 $20.97 $24.60 $35.40 $24.29 $23.26 $22.16 $20.81
DVD player 3W $8.67 $9.30 $6.99 $8.20 $11.80 $8.10 $7.75 $7.39 $6.94
Computer monitor 1W $2.89 $3.10 $2.33 $2.73 $3.93 $2.70 $2.58 $2.46 $2.31
Washing machine 4W $11.56 $12.40 $9.32 $10.93 $15.73 $10.80 $10.34 $9.85 $9.25
Air conditioner 2W $5.78 $6.20 $4.66 $5.47 $7.87 $5.40 $5.17 $4.93 $4.63
Wireless modem 10W $28.91 $31.01 $23.30 $27.33 $39.33 $26.99 $25.84 $24.63 $23.13

Source: www.canstarblue.com.au – 16/10/2023. Based on single rate electricity plans on Canstar’s database; excluding solar-only plans. Electricity usage cost estimates based on average electricity usage rates: 35.4c/kWh in Sydney, 26.6c/kWh in Melbourne, 31.2c/kWh in Brisbane, 44.9c/kWh in Adelaide, 30.8c/kWh in Perth, 29.5c/kWh in Hobart, 28.1c/kWh in Darwin, 26.4c/kWh in Canberra and 33.0c/kWh overall. Table assumes standby usage 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Standby power consumption based on data from various sources.

Think standby power won’t cost you that much? Our data above suggests households with all the appliances listed could be unknowingly adding between $104.07 and $176.99 to their energy bills each year, depending on location. But no need to panic! Let’s take a look at why this may be the case and what you can do to crunch those numbers down.

Why do appliances use electricity on standby?

If an appliance has a remote control, LED light, digital clock, touch-on button, or similar function, then you can bet it uses standby electricity. The amount of electricity that feeds into the device will be absolutely miniscule – just enough to power its sensors so it can be switched back on.

Some of the more expensive devices to leave on standby are ones which run background functions. Take a gaming console for example. Many new consoles will regularly run Wi-Fi checks, download content and be ready for remote, touch or voice activation. This will inevitably consume electricity while in standby mode and may add some unexpected costs to your power bill.

Stay ahead of power price pain. Compare cheap electricity plans below

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

Here are some of the cheapest published deals from the retailers on our database that include a link to the retailer’s website for further details. These are products from referral partners†. These costs are based on the SA Power network in Adelaide but prices may vary depending on your circumstances. This comparison assumes general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Please use our comparison tool for a specific comparison in your area. Our database may not cover all deals in your area. As always, check all details of any plan directly with the retailer before making a purchase decision.

How to reduce standby energy costs

Think of standby electricity as a leaky tap. Even if it doesn’t bother you, it’s still a waste that you should try to mitigate. Here are a few tips to reduce your standby electricity wastage:

  • Turn off appliances at the wall: This one is pretty self-explanatory and is a widely practiced way to save on energy. Switching off appliances at the point is a guaranteed way to ensure your electricity bill isn’t inflated by phantom load.
  • Smart boards: Some electricity boards are able to detect when an appliance has entered standby mode and will cut its electricity feed entirely. It will also detect when you’re trying to turn the device back on and recommence its feed of electricity.
  • Energy efficient models: The energy efficiency star ratings system is intended to indicate electricity usage running costs, but it also helps provides a useful guide to standby costs. The more energy efficient an appliance is, the less electricity it will use on standby.
  • Adjust standby settings: You can modify the settings on some smart televisions and smart consoles to minimise their standby functionality. Use this to stop them from scanning for Wi-Fi when on standby.

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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