According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2013, the world’s networked devices such as set-top boxes, modems, printers and game consoles consumed around 616 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. Of this total most of the energy 400 TWh was consumed by devices in so-called "standby" mode. Much of the problem boils down to inefficient “network standby”. Network standby refers to maintaining a network connection while in standby. Standby suggests that the device is almost off consuming less power than when it is performing its main task. The reality is that network-connected devices often draw as much power in network standby mode as when they are performing their main tasks.
The world’s 14 billion online electronic devices waste around US$ 80 billion each year because of inefficient technology. In 2013, only a small portion of the world’s population used these connected devices. But as a growing share of the world’s population uses these devices and the Internet of Things begins to include includes smart thermostats, washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners, and lights, the problem will grow rapidly. The IEA estimates that by 2020, wasted power will grow to US$ 120 billion.
The IEA in a recent report More Data, Less Energy: Making Network Standby More Efficient in Billions of Connected Devices identifies simple measures that can be implemented now to improve energy efficiency in networked devices, resulting in massive savings of energy and money. Consumers are losing money through wasted energy. This means we build more expensive power stations power stations (which generate more emissions) and transmission and distribution infrastructure that we really don't need.
These network-connected devices are more often than not in standby mode. According to the IEA by using today’s best available technology, power requirements in standby mode could be reduced by 65%.
The report projects that if better energy efficiency measures were applied to online devices in the coming years, 600 TWh of energy would be saved. This would allow the shutting down of 200 standard 500MW coal-fired power plants and reducing emissions by 600 million metric tonnes of CO2.