There really is no such thing as an “off” button on the majority of electronic devices you buy these days. If you wanted to be more accurate, you could pencil in an extra word next to the off setting: “**mostly** off.”

The reason for that is because electronics generally sleep with one eye open. Your TV, DVR, and other devices with a remote control use a little electricity so they can see if you hit the power button. TV and computer displays also burn a little energy so that they can turn on more quickly and don’t have to go through a warm-up period. If you have an old CRT-style TV kicking around in the garage or a spare bedroom, then it’s consuming even more electricity to stay warmed up, compared to its flat-screened brethren. The chargers and AC adapters that power just about everything you own tend to “leak” a bit of electricity as well.

## How much money are you losing to passive energy consumption?

To answer that question, first you have to understand how energy use is measured. Throughout Canada and much of the rest of the world, the standard unit of electrical energy is the kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is unit that combines an amount of energy (a kilowatt, or kW, which equals 1,000 watts), with the amount of time for which that energy is used (an hour).

To figure how much total energy something uses, you have to take the amount of energy it consumes in kilowatts, and times that with the amount of time that it used that energy. For instance, let’s say that you have an old incandescent light bulb in your garage that uses 100 watts when it’s on. To figure out how many kilowatts that is, you take the wattage and divide it by 1,000 (because that’s how many watts are in one kilowatt). So in this case:

100

÷1,000 = 0.1

Your garage light uses 0.1 kW. Now, let’s say that you left it on for 4 hours. Take the number of kilowatts the lamp uses, and multiply it with the length of time it ran (4 hours). So:

0.1 kW x 4 hours = 0.4 kilowatt-hours

Now, if you know how much your electricity supplier charges you per kilowatt-hour, you can figure out exactly how much it cost you to run that appliance. Right now (August 2015) the regulated rate for electricity in Calgary is about 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, so let’s run with that figure. To figure out the cost of running the light in the garage, take the total amount of energy it used, and times it by the cost per kilowatt-hour:

0.4 kWh x $0.08 per kWh = $0.032

That means it cost you a hair over 3 cents to run that lamp for 4 hours. Not exactly breaking the bank, right? But now let’s talk about the energy that your appliances are using in your house 24/7, 365 days a year.

## All day, all night, all year energy leakage!

To figure out how much an appliance is costing you to run, we can do some math ahead of time to make things easier. Let’s say that you have a piece of electronic equipment that is constantly using 1 watt, or 0.001 kilowatts. That means that it one hour, it uses 0.001 kWh. So if it stays plugged in all year long, it’s going to use:

0.001 kWh x 24 hours per day x 365 days per year = 8.76 kWh

For every one watt that your appliances leak in an hour, that adds up to 8.76 kWh per year. Now, we can take that figure and times it by the current regulated rate for electricity in Calgary to figure out how much each leaked watt costs you over the course of a year (for the sake of accuracy, we’ll use the exact rate this time: $0.07896 per kWh):

8.76 kWh x $0.07896/kWh = about $0.69

So right now, for every 1 watt that is wasted for an entire year, that is currently costing Calgarians about 69 cents. If you want to figure out the figure for your household, just take 8.76 and times it with cost per kWh listed on your utility bill.

69 cents isn’t a lot. But remember, that’s the cost of a *single watt* being used over the course of a year. We can take the amount of energy that an appliance uses in watts, and multiply that by $0.69 to figure out how much it’ll cost over the course of a year.

Now, let’s take a look at the typical standby energy usage of some common appliances, as well as the usage of some devices that are commonly left on all the time, and see how much that costs over the course of a year. Note that unless a specific model of device is listed, then the electricity usage is an approximation, and may vary significantly from the energy usage of your own appliances.

## Kitchen Appliances

**Coffee Maker **Standby usage: 1.14 watts

Cost per year: $0.79

**Microwave**

Standby usage: 3.08 watts

Cost per year: $2.13

**Mini Audio System**

Standby usage: 8.32 watts

Cost per year: $5.74

## Living Room Electronics

**Typical LCD TV**

Standby usage: 3.06 watts

Cost per year: $2.11

**Old CRT TV (c.2003)**

Standby usage: 12 watts

Cost per year: $8.28

**Samsung LED EH4003 32″ (Energy Star certified)**

Standby usage: 0.3 watts

Cost per year: $0.21

**Sony PlayStation 4**

Standby usage: 8.4 watts

Cost per year: $5.80

On and at home screen (not being used): 88 watts

Cost per year: $60.72

**Microsoft Xbox One **Standby usage: 15.7 watts

Cost per year: $10.83

On and at home screen (not being used): 72 watts

Cost per year: $49.68

**Tivo Roamio Pro DVR**

Power-saving mode: 16.8 watts

Cost per year: $11.59

Standby mode: 20 watts

Cost per year: $13.80

**Motorola DCX3400 DVR**

Standby mode: 28 watts

Cost per year: $19.32

## Office Devices

**Motorola SB6121 Cable Modem**

Normal mode, idle: 6.5 watts

Cost per year: $4.49

**Netgear RangeMax WNR1000 Router**

Normal mode, max usage: 4.6 watts

Cost per year: $3.17

**Brother Hl-3140CW Laser Printer**

Standby: 7 watts

Cost per year: $4.83

**Samsung Series 7 Chronos 17″ Laptop**

Running, normal operation: 90 watts

Cost per year: $62.10

**Computer Display Monitor**

Standby: 1.38 watts

Cost per year: $0.95

## Bedroom Accessories

**Honeywell HWF Portable Fan**

On: 36 watts

Cost per year: $24.84

**Cell Phone Charger **No phone plugged in: 0.26 watts

Cost per year: $0.18

Phone plugged in, fully charged: 2.24 watts

Cost per year: $1.55

**Clock radio**

On: 2 watts

Cost per year: $1.38