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Electronics cost you in standby power. Find out just how much.

Timeline of electronics from the 1970s to the 2010s

This Power Smart Month, we're taking a look at just how much electronics can cost you, and how you can save.

Knowing how standby power can affect your bill will help keep more money in your pocket.

We've got more devices, using more power, than ever before

High-definition televisions, laptops, tablets, smartphones, game consoles — today the average Canadian home looks very different than the homes of our parents and grandparents. And all those electronics can add up when it comes to your power bill. In fact, electronics energy use in is expected to represent 15 to 20 per cent of home energy use by 2015, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

Since the 1970s, we've seen more and more electronic devices enter our homes. And they're getting bigger and using more power than ever before:

  • In the 1970s, most homes had only one television, with an average screen size of less than 30 inches.
  • Between 1970 and 1990, the number of television sets per Canadian home doubled.
  • Screen sizes have increased by 50 per cent since 1970, going from 30 inches to around 46 inches.

Today, the average Canadian home has more than 25 or more devices that use standby power. Not just consumer electronics like televisions, but small appliances like coffeemakers are culprits too.

And all that power is adding up. In the '70s, most homes used about 290 kilowatt hours (kwH) a year to power home electronics. In the 1990s, that number went up to around 485 kwh/year. And today? It's a whopping 960 kilowatt hours a year, just to power electronics like computers and consoles.

So how much does all this new technology mean, in dollars and cents? The answer depends on how much you monitor your standby power.

Reduce standby power, reduce your bill

The biggest problem with home electronics is standby power — power that's drawn even when electronics aren't in use. If your electronics have timers, clocks, displays, or little blinking lights, they're using standby power. And for items like mobile devices and laptop computers, leaving chargers plugged in all the time is using standby power too.

That standby power can cost you. In fact, electronics can account for up to 10 per cent of your electricity bill. The good news? Turning them off is always free.

Using smart strips or smart power bars can be a great way to power devices that need to stay on (like personal video recorders, or PVRs and powering off devices that aren't needed, such as game consoles.

Another way to reduce energy use from your electronics is to choose the most efficient models available when you're in the market for new ones.

Power Smart Month specials on now, plus win an ENERGY STAR® Blu Ray Player

If you're shopping for new electronics, October is Power Smart Month and our retail partners have great deals on everything ENERGY STAR.

Choosing efficient electronics means you'll start saving as soon as you start using them, assuming you recycle your old models. The most energy efficient TVs use at least 30 per cent less energy than a standard TV, and an ENERGY STAR computer can give you up to 77 kWh/year of savings.

See electronics deals available all month long from our retail partners

Plus, this month Team Power Smart members can enter to win one of two Panasonic ENERGY STAR 3D Blu Ray players, from Team Power Smart in partnership with Best Buy.

How to enter:

  • If you're already a Team Power Smart member, log in to your MyHydro account and go to your Member's Tool Box to enter this month's contest. Once you have entered your Members' Tool Box, select"View this month's contest details" and follow the contest entry instructions.
  • Not a Team Power Smart member or don't have an online (MyHydro) account yet? You'll need to create a MyHydro Profile and join Team Power Smart, then go to your Members' Tool Box to enter the contest. Once you have entered your Members' Tool Box, select "View this month's contest details" and follow the contest entry instructions.
Remote control

Recycle old electronics, and save

If you do replace electronics, don't let them sit in the corner gathering dust (and drawing power). You can recycle your old electronics, like computers, monitors, televisions, and more for free across British Columbia.

See the full list of accepted products and find a drop-off location near you.