One of the biggest energy hogs in your home is what’s called the “standby mode” and it’s found on most TVs, computers and audio gear. Although you probably power down your equipment when not in use, it still pulls a sometimes frightening amount of power from the grid. Eliminating this draw, or least significantly decreasing it has been a major concern for the green movement for some time. Now, several companies have heard the call and are responding.
NuVo, for example, has received an Energy Star rating for its Essentia whole-house music system by building in circuitry that allows its product to draw less than 1 watt of power when it’s not spreading tunes to speakers planted throughout the house. That 1 watt of electricity is necessary for the system to activate without needing to be reset. NuVo’s original Essentia system, by comparison, consumed 12 watts in standby mode.
Richard Gray’s Power Company (RGPC) sells through contracted home systems installers a whole-house solution that’s specially designed to protect audio and video gear and home control systems from energy spikes. The PowerVault does everything you’d expect from a $24,500 power management system: It filters out dirty electricity; it wipes out surges, sags and spikes; and it eliminates AC interference. Plus, it provides backup power for your electronic systems so you can use them during a blackout for as long as two days, depending on the load. If the PowerVault’s price tag seems steep, consider that you can save money on your electricity bills by tapping into the product’s green features. The PowerVault is solar-ready, which means it can store energy from the sun to drive your A/V systems. “All a homeowner needs to do is supply the solar panels on his or her rooftop,” says RGPC product manager Mateo Jaramillo. “The PowerVault has all of necessary inverters, wiring and disconnects built right in.”
Another green UPS solution comes from American Power Conversion (APC). The company’s S20 Power Conditioner with Battery Backup eliminates wasteful electricity consumption by allowing you to cut power to your A/V components when they’re not being used. According to the Energy End-Use Forecasting and Market Assessment Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, about half of all consumer electronics energy is actually consumed while the products are off. Through an Internet connection, you can instruct the outlets on the APC S20 to power off temporarily. APC plans to eventually offer power conditioners that will disengage power to components automatically whenever the devices go into standby mode.
While many electronic products must draw at least some power in standby mode in order to operate well, there’s no doubt that manufacturers are looking at ways to make their amplifiers, set-top boxes, TVs, speakers and whole-house audio/video systems more energy efficient.