EU plans to tackle standby

European Union members have discussed plans to reduce the amount of energy used by appliances left on standby.

The EU’s Ecodesign Consultation Forum held its second meeting on October 19 to review actions which could be introduced under the European Commission’s Ecodesign Directive.

Proposals under discussion included a requirement to reduce the power consumption of new appliances when turned off or in standby mode to just one watt within a year of implementing the regulations.

Manufacturers would then have to reduce this further to just 0.5 watts within three years if the current plans are adopted by the EU.

However, a working document reviewed by the forum set out exemptions for equipment which continues to provide information or a status display while it is in standby mode.

Equipment would be tested by authorities in EU’s members states to ensure it complied with the rules.

EU energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: “Our aim is to use the Ecodesign Directive to drastically reduce standby electricity consumption by household and office products.

“This is an important contribution to reach the energy efficiency and climate protection targets agreed at the March council, as well as to save citizens money.”

The meeting of the forum followed a new study that revealed that mandatory limits on standby power consumption could give Europe’s homes and businesses an annual energy saving equivalent to the electricity used in a year in Hungary.

It is expected that any measures introduced by the EU will also affect other parts of the world, as many of the targeted products – such as televisions, computers and radios – are sold worldwide.

The Ecodesign Directive, adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2005, established EU-wide rules for designing environmentally-friendly energy-using products.

Kate Martin

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