MGE EnergyWise - Helping you save energy and money

Can a device that's off still use electricity?

Yes! The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that about 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Some appliances and electronic equipment use electricity even when turned off. This is called standby power. Standby power accounts for an estimated 6% of average U.S. household electric use – a total of 43 billion kilowatt-hours per year.

How can I reduce standby power use?

  • Use a switched power strip to turn off several pieces of equipment at once, especially those connected to computers and TVs.
  • Borrow a Watts Up portable energy meter from your public library to find out which equipment uses power when turned off. Click the link to find or reserve a meter from your local library.
  • Unplug cell chargers, audio and video equipment and other electronic equipment when not in use.
  • Switch off video game consoles or enable the power-saving options.
  • A specially designed “smart” power strip can automatically shut off several sockets when the equipment plugged into a master socket is turned off. You can use this device to shut down the power to your printer, wireless router and scanner just by turning off the computer. A smart strip also can shut off power to your audio and video equipment when you turn off the TV or system receiver.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when buying appliances and equipment. ENERGY STAR qualified equipment uses less standby power.
  • When possible, avoid buying equipment with soft touch controls, clocks or remote functions that are not needed.

Additional resources:

For more information on ENERGY STAR appliances and standards, visit The Federal Energy Management Program has information on products with low standby power:

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