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Please stand by while we destroy the planet

basilfawlty2.jpgWhile we’re on the subjects of the British and television, let us draw attention to an energy review for the British Government which last month took aim at one of those great convenience innovations of the late 20th century: the TV standby mode.

Imagine the scene. You get back from a long hard day (fish and chips in hand, presumably), fix yourself a cup of tea, flop down onto the couch, push the red button on the remote control and…nothing! The British press breathlessly reports that the standby mode faces a complete ban.

This draconian measure would mean actually having to turn on the TV using the button on the box itself. It will no longer be waiting in readiness for the remote control’s command. Admittedly this story might be a little overcooked — in reality the report talks more of tackling the standby issue rather than eliminating the standby mode altogether. Still, it’s not the worst idea.

Does the 40-inch beast really drink that much electricity just by having the little red light on, waiting for you to wave the remote control at it? Well, yes, actually it does. I’ve been through the TV energy consumption information from CNET (link helpfully provided by our blog readers) and the average TV there has a standby mode that consumes 6.5% of the electricity used in full-power mode.

6.5% might not sound like very much, but even in the average US household (where the TV is on for a staggering 8 hours a day) the standby mode is responsible for 13% of the TV’s energy consumption. Come down to a more reasonable (and healthy!) amount of TV viewing — say 90 minutes a day — and your standby mode uses the same amount of energy as your total TV viewing.

That luxury of falling onto the couch and waving the remote control at the TV is an expensive one. Large plasma televisions can draw as much power as a refrigerator. The fish and chips won’t be any the worse for having to turn the box on first. Just remember to turn it off afterwards.

And what about the remaning 90 minutes of TV viewing? I’m pleased to announce that your favorite British comedy classics will soon be both hilarious and carbon free: the Home TerraPass that offsets your home energy’s carbon emissions is just a few weeks away.

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