(For information on emergency power and associated utility rates for distributed energy, see Standby Rates.)
Standby, or “phantom” power is the power used by electronics and appliances when they’re not performing their main function. This energy can represent a substantial portion of the overall energy use of a device. Devices that typically draw power when not in use are those that have remote controls, lights or displays that stay on, or cords that incorporate a “power brick”. Increasing the efficiency of these devices involves better practices and technologies. Better practices include measures like unplugging devices when not in use, or utilizing “smart” power strips. Additionally, manufactures can design electronics to draw little to no power when not in use.
In some products, standby power represents the majority of their annual energy use. In other cases, the standby power of a device may be relatively low, but because of the ubiquity of the product the aggregate standby power consumption may represent a significant amount of energy at a national level.
Today, all new federal efficiency standards are required to include standby power.