Household Appliances and Entertainment Systems

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Introduction

Technology in household appliances and entertainment systems is making the lives of consumers more convenient, and comfortable while remaining attainable to the masses. However associated with this technology is cost. Cost to the user, cost the environment, and cost to the future. Some of this technology has been used to increase efficiency, therefore reducing the costs. This increase in efficiency is a strong selling point allowing companies to market long term savings for the consumer. One the other hand, technology has been used to make life more convenient, and comfortable, at the cost of efficiency. Convenience and comfort is a strong marketing ploy, while the decreasing efficiency is not widely disclosed to consumer.

Consumer behaviour is the biggest factor in relation to the power consumption and Greenhouse Gas emissions. Consumers still want the best product they can afford, for example wide screen television, surround sound system, washing machine, microwave, dishwasher, oven, dryer, computer etc. Consumers are concerned with efficiency, and running costs, yet they still need to feel satisfied and impressed with their purchase. Upon doing so the consumer fails to realise the hidden cost. The hidden cost is a resultant of standby mode.

These appliances generally have a minimal “in use” time, and a long standby time. The power saved while the product is in use, compared to various other products, can be negligible to the power drain while in standby mode.

Green House Gas Emissions

If an appliance is in minimum power mode, and not in full use it is said to be on standby. This standby mode consumes power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week while awaiting user input. The standby feature has been a revolutionary addition, changing consumers, lives and habits. This standby feature has been on almost every entertainment appliance manufactured in the past 20 years. The vast majority of consumers consider the standby mode as “off”. However this is not the case, and in sometimes there is almost no difference between the power consumption between the “on” and “standby” modes. The simple misconception can be quite costly. The stand by mode is a great marketing ploy, targeting convenience for the consumer, while secretly providing a healthy revenue boost to power companies.

Consumers are aware of the standby mode on home entertainment appliances, however there are other appliances quietly running in standby mode, which are readily burning a hole in our pockets. The number of appliances which run in standby mode in the home is ever increasing. All the little improvements made on appliances to increase their marketability is costing us millions of dollars, and producing extra carbon dioxide which is released into the atmosphere.

Equipment Energy Efficiency committee has conducted an intrusive survey to determine the standby power consumption of Household Appliances in Australia in 2005. This survey included 120 houses all around Australia, 40 houses in Brisbane, 30 houses in Sydney and 50 Houses in Melbourne. The report shows that the average standby power consumption per household was 92.2 watts and it was 10.7% of total household electricity consumption. This means standby power had cost Australian consumers about $950 million. The standby function was also responsible for emitting approximately 6.5 million tones of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

In the survey, around 56% of appliances which are always plugged in were in standby mode. The highest record of standby power usage would be 178.3 watts per household. In contrast, the lowest record was 86.2 watts per household. If standby power consumption of all appliances were under 1 watt, the result will fall to 32.3 watts per household.

When the number of items per household and average standby power parameters is considered, contribution of computers to total standby power was the highest and the set top boxes consumed the highest...
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