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On reaching 150

On reaching 150
On taking things on trust

On reaching 150

Bandolier sometimes feels old, just as if we have been dug out of the ground and found as in inscription for future generations to scratch their heads over. There is a Churchillian expression that sums up our attitude to life. A small prize for the first person to email in what the expression may be.


On taking things on trust

We take an awful lot of things on trust. Of course, some of us have more acutely tuned antennae for spotting nonsense than others, and Bandolier is all about spotting it, which is why we've even tuned it into a book.

Times columnist Matthew Parris decided to source the barrage of advice about turning off electrical units on standby, a supposed major cause of wasted electricity. Little red lights wasted up to 10% of the electricity supply, or 1% of global carbon emissions. This was big. Even Andrew's mother's hairdresser's friend knew about it, and religiously turned everything off.

Matthew tracked down a review of the topic [1], and was astonished to find that UK data was from a single study in only 32 homes. Whole-house measurements of standby power use in 21 studies had examined between 1 and 178 homes. But worldwide results were pretty consistent, with annual standby use of 300-1000 kWh/year. The UK figure averaged 280 kWh/year, supposedly 8% of total residential electricity use, though in Bandolier's mean (both meanings) pad it would be half that. Another review [2] estimates standby power uses 1.5% of all electricity consumption in OECD countries: a small percentage but an awful lot of power.

Redesigning circuits could reduce standby power consumption by 90%. Standby power use by individual appliances varies up to 20-fold. The message is not just about taking figures on trust, but governments getting a grip on what is known doing something, rather than just bleating at us.

References

  1. AK Meier. A worldwide review of standby power use in homes. 2001 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Paper LBNL-49377: repositories.cdlib.org/lbnl/LBNL-49377.
  2. B Mohanty. Standby power losses in household electrical appliances and office equipment. Presented in 2001.

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