Nuclear plant

Standby consumption and hidden electricity costs

Hidden electricity consumption and standby consumption, what about you and your bills?

Fighting against the construction of new nuclear power plants also means fighting against overconsumption of electrical energy. While there are electrical needs which are not "compressible" because they are linked to the country's economic activity, there are other needs which are much more so and in which each of us can be an actor. One of these energy “needs” are hidden electricity costs.

We do not mean hidden electrical costs:

    • Residual electrical consumption that does not enter the device use phase (standby or electrical standby),


    • Overconsumption of electricity due to incorrect adjustment, deterioration or lack of maintenance of the appliance (dirty resistance, frosted fridge, etc.)


    • Overconsumption compared to the product data sheet

It is obviously very difficult to estimate these hidden costs globally for France, but various figures are circulating and the consumption of devices on standby would correspond annually to the electrical energy produced by a nuclear reactor! In other words, it is a very large amount of energy and that reducing hidden costs is reducing the nuclear risk.

We will estimate below this value.

At the beginning of the summer of 2006, a piece of news (not taken up by the mainstream media and therefore to be taken with a grain of salt) expressed England's desire to henceforth prohibit the possibility of standby on new devices. electric. We can easily imagine the industrial or energy consequences that such a measure could have if it were applied everywhere!

In the rest of this article we will detail what are the real and hidden consumption of some devices in common use and see briefly what are the possibilities, simple and affordable, to fight against these hidden costs.

Electric watches

It is no longer necessary to recall what an electrical standby is, let's focus on some common device measurements. These measurements are obviously indicative and vary according to the type of equipment you have.

    • Television from: 5 to 30 W


    • VCR or DVD player: from 5 to 20W


    • PC in Hibernation: 20 to 50W


    • Laptop cut but external power supply connected: 10 to 20W (see next paragraph)

You can easily measure the consumption of devices on standby with a multimeter wattmeter plug that plugs directly into the outlet.

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So we quickly get a permanent consumption in standby that can exceed 100W and this 24h / 24h.

What is the total standby power consumption for France?

Let's take 50W at a rate of 6 hours of daily use and 18 hours of standby on average, this induces an annual excess consumption of 50 * 8760 * 18/24 = close to 329 kWh (i.e. around € 40 in France at € 0.12 / kWh including subscription) .

Let's multiply this by the number of homes in France and we quickly get very important energies.

Thus with 10 million households and a consumption of 50W, we obtain 3290 GWh (1 GWh = 1000 MWh), i.e. the energy production of a 900MW nuclear reactor operating at full power for 3290 / 0.9 = 3650 h, i.e. more than 150 days .

Add to this the hidden costs of industrialists and companies, as well as the losses in the distribution line (roughly 5 to 10% by current transformation or overall distribution efficiency of: 0,9 to 0,95 at the power "number of transformer ”)… and we would probably obtain an overconsumption of energy "for nothing" close to a nuclear reactor year of operation, or about 7000 GWh or 7 TWh .

But even when off (standby off) some devices still consume without any indicator light being on, the proof with this HP multifunction printer, it is best to use multiple sockets with switches. Here is a multi-socket model with 4 anti-standby switches.

Examples of hidden costs of some common devices

Here are the "hidden" electrical costs resulting from their design of a few common use devices.

1) Small electrical transformers

They are used for small or very small household appliances (modem, answering machine, telephone-fax, computer and mobile phone, tablets, GPS, etc.).

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Most of the time, they are directly molded into the socket (mobile phone for example).

These transformers transform the 230V alternating current into low voltage direct current of a few W of useful power. This transformation is not "easy" to do and this explains (in part) the very low efficiency of such transformers rarely exceeds 20%.

In other words, 4W are wasted (in heat) for 1W useful sent to the device. This also explains why most of these small transformers heat up a lot: these 4W go entirely in heat.

This type of device must therefore be unplugged after use! However, small switching transformers with better efficiency are now entering the market.

2) Microwave ovens

According to various tests, their effective efficiency is, at best, around 50%, so prefer an electric kettle with an efficiency greater than 80% for heating water.

3) LED bulbs, the worst worse than good?

Appearing on the market in 2005, many people think to save money by installing LED bulbs.

However, in many cases, the light output is catastrophic and much worse than compact fluorescent bulbs and even inferior to "classic" incandescent bulbs! This is explained by the fact that sellers and manufacturers do not take into account the transformation of the alternating current of the network into low voltage direct current usable by the LEDs.

It's a bit the same problem as with the small transformers mentioned above.

However, some more advanced models, such as those equipped with Edison LEDs, have better results and have a light output comparable to CFLs… with a lifespan 5 times longer (at least on paper…)

A wattmeter and a luxmeter is enough to be convinced. Here is some information on the subject: LED lighting.

4) The circulator of your boiler

Watch your boiler circulator, it is not uncommon for it not to be regulated with or by your boiler. That is to say that it runs 24/24 and 365 days a year! For a 60W circulator, this can represent an annual overconsumption of 60 * 24 * 365,25 * 0,6 = 315,6 kWh or, in France, about € 30 per year for nothing at all.
The value 0,6 is taken arbitrarily by assuming that 5 months in the year (40% of a year therefore) the heating is working and that the circulator is therefore useful.

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Here is a method of optimizing electricity consumption your heating circulator.

How to fight against these (almost) invisible “enemies”?

We can not say it again enough, the resolution of the energy problem will also pass by a change of our (bad) habits. To help us in this fight, there are several objects to achieve savings that can be classified in 3 categories:
- evaluate,
- to act,
- to choose.

1) Rate

The evaluation can be done thanks to many socket power meters now available on the market. Their cost is affordable, generally less than 40 €. Be careful, however, with "white" equipment (understand: unbranded) because their reliability is far from guaranteed.

Example of a device with a good price/performance ratio: the PM231 energy meter wattmeter.

2) Act

Do not leave on standby devices that allow it, but also systematically disconnect small transformers (how many people leave their laptop charger connected all the time?), Use power strips switch (there are even with several switch these are multi-switch socket, ideal for a socket such as TV-VCR).

3) Choose better

We are “all” tempted by cheap materials, unfortunately, these are the ones that generally have the highest hidden consumption and the least reliability and lifespan.

A better choice in the products you really need will make you save money in the end.

But before buying this or that appliance, the main question is above all: do I really need this product? In many cases, there are (still but for how long?) “Manual” alternatives.

Indeed, when we are in good health, do we really need, for example, an electric can opener, or worse, an electric salt or pepper mill?

In conclusion, we must not lose in mind that it is the consumers who decide (before the manufacturers) whether or not a product will survive: an anti-econological product that is not sold will no longer be manufactured!

More: action against electronic and electrical watches and hidden or invisible consumptions

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