Assistant Secretary Karsner Appears on CNN to Discuss Standby Power
December 12, 2006
CNN - TV
REPORTER: The holiday run on big electronics purchases may have consumers thinking Halloween instead of Christmas. Think vampires.
Assistant Secretary Karsner, U.S. Department of Energy: All devices have the potential to be vampire devices in the sense that it's really the characteristic of sucking extra electricity while they're in standby mode.
REPORTER: This washing machine for example needs power to keep the electronic keypads ready to go, even when it looks completely off.
Alan Meier: It draws about two watts in standby.
REPORTER: Alan Meier has been studying vampire electronics for years.
Alan Meier: Each home now has anywhere from ten to fifty of these products. So that adds up and represents as much as a month of your electricity bill.
REPORTER: Plug this DVD player, that isn't even playing a DVD, into a watt meter and it shows consumption of 11.32 watts with the power on.
Alan Meier: But I've turned it off and it's now drawing six watts.
REPORTER: Because with the demand for instant on, off doesn't really mean off. Even Meier can be surprised.
Alan Meier: These electric toothbrushes don't consume much power.
REPORTER: But plug in that watt meter
Alan Meier: Oops well, I was wrong, this electric toothbrush draws about 1.8 watts. So it's about two dollars in electricity consumption.
REPORTER: Meier's home computer, just standing by.
Alan Meier: It's drawing 65 watts.
REPORTER: You know those two little dots on your microwave?
Alan Meier: Those two dots are responsible for three watts.
President Bush: We expect our agencies to be ridding themselves of the vampires.
REPORTER: President Bush ordered the Federal Government to buy products that use no more than one watt in standby. California outlaws the sale of devices that use more than three watts. But nationally...
Katherine Kennedy, Natural Resources Defense Council: The Federal Government isn't setting standards for those yet and we're going to need some new laws to make that happen.
REPORTER: Manufacturers argue that would increase the products' cost. Energy experts recommend simply unplugging the appliances or using the 21st century equivalent of garlic or a wooden stake, a power strip, where you can kill several vampires at the same time. It can take a real bite...out of your electric bill.
Gary Nurenburg, CNN, Washington.