[Intl] International Energy Agency publishes report identifying $80 billion in wasted electricity use from electronic devices annually.

According to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the 14 billion electronic devices used globally waste around $80 billion worth of power each year, mostly while in standby mode.  This equals approximately 400 terawatt-hours of electricity wasted annually, roughly the amount needed to power the United Kingdom and Norway for a year.

The IEA released a report this week highlighting the immense amount of waste associated with inefficient technology in the world’s electronic devices.  According to the IEA’s report, inefficient electronic devices waste an estimated $80 billion annually, primarily while on “standby” mode.  This wasted energy can translate into lost profits and increased costs for manufacturers and consumers alike.

In 2013, a relatively small portion of the global population relied on over 14 billion “network-enabled” devices in homes and offices, such as televisions, smart phones, tablets, and other electronic devices.  This number is expected to exceed 50 billion by 2020.  The 14 billion devices used around 616 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in 2013, of which 400 TWh was wasted.  One of the drivers of this waste is that the “standby” mode of these devices often uses far more power than needed.  Consumers demand that their devices be available at all times so that the device can quickly interact with the network, meaning that these devices are always on.  Computers and television sets are left on to be ready for action at any time, meaning that they are drawing energy, even in standby mode, at all times of the day.  The IEA notes that standby infers that the device is sleeping and “almost off” when in fact, many devices draw nearly as much energy in standby as when preforming their primary task.

The IEA estimates that electricity waste from devices left on standby is close to 400 TWh annually, costing approximately $80 billion per year.  That corresponds to the annual electricity generated by 133 mid-size coal-fired power plants, each requiring 1.4 million tons of coal per year.  IEA predicts that by 2020, over $120 billion will be wasted as many devices use about the same amount of power on standby as when switched on.

The IEA suggests policy changes for governments, as well as industry who can cut down on electricity waste, and save financially, by improving efficiency.

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More Data, Less Energy: Making Network Standby More Efficient in Billions of Connected Devices, International Energy Agency, 2014.