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Re: A technical question about electronics ...

I have a better answer. I get one station. Fox. That is the only station that my television receives with any clarity. It means that if I want to be entertained over the air I am limited to 24 and American Idol, but this makes it easier to ignore altogether.

As to the energy consumption. CO2 production will of course increase. I am not however so sure about the heat in your house. Energy balance has to include the photons begin emitted by the LCD. The great advantage of LCD's is that more of the energy needed to make something visible goes to the screen and not out the back as heat.

(Keeping an old monitor is a great way to fix cell phones that have fallen in water. Take the battery out and put the phone on the CRT vents. The gentle heat coming from the CRT will thoroughly and non destructively dry the electronic components allow them to work without shorting. )

This doesn't mean however that Mr. Murdoch isn't part of the evil conspiracy to milk more money out of you. I suspect that he is partial to his paycheck however and motivating you to fund it is the best way to keep it coming. As we learned in "Forrest Gump", "it's okay to say that Mr. Shingi's ping pong paddle is the best, no one really believes you, they know you are just doing it to earn a buck" (badly misquoted).

Re: A technical question about electronics ...

On the first question: I could be wrong, but I think when a TV is in standby mode the only thing that is powered is the infrared receiver which detects a signal from a handheld remote control to switch it back on, most of the electronics is in the same condition as if the TV had been completely switched off. The only saving in wear and tear would be in reducing the use of the mechanical on/off button. I think the only domestic appliance where there is some sort of economic argument to completely switch off is computer equipment.

There was a good article in the Guardian (believe it or not) a few weeks ago called "Stand by for some home truths about power consumption" (link:,,2054505,00.html ) The reason the article was good was because it wasn't written by one of the Guardian's environmental journalists (who would normally cover this topic), it was written by an IT journalist who had investigated the issue by experimenting himself. In the article he points out that the savings from cracking down on standby mode are neglible compared with the energy used by some other domestic appliances. In the case of energy saving lightbulbs, he makes the much more practical suggestion of removing lampshades from bulbs and using lower power incandescent bulbs.

On the second question about whether it would make more sense for Murdoch to shut down his business than advise people to switch to energy saving bulbs, I agree. But I doubt whether Murdoch is actually doing any of his own thinking on any of this, he's probably reading out what Sky TV's corporate social responsibility department is telling him to say.

I have a theory about why the Green lobby are putting forward these perverse suggestions on reducing electricity consumption. When the Greenies do something that is even more brainless than normal, their paranoid fear of nuclear power or GM food tends to be somewhere at the root of it. Cutting back on electrical standby power and domestic lighting might reduce the demand for baseload power, and nuclear power's major strength is to provide baseload power. We can get a glimpse of this kind of thinking in Friends of the Earth's submission to the 2006 Energy Review where these two particular energy-saving issues are framed in terms of reducing demand for nuclear power in their press release:

"# Legislate to reduce energy wastage through televisions, and other electrical appliances that waste energy on stand-by mode

Around one nuclear power station in the UK has to be kept running in order to provide power for appliances not in use and on `standby' mode. Around 24 nuclear plants are kept running throughout the industrialised world for this purpose! Legislation is currently being considered by the EU.

# Replace ordinary light-bulbs with energy efficient light-bulbs

This could reduce electricity consumption by at least two per cent (equivalent to one nuclear power station) by 2020. And the potential is much higher if we implement a programme to replace inefficient street lighting and lighting in the commercial sector."

Re: Re: A technical question about electronics ...

Dave, thanks for that.

There are some odd numbers in the charts - even if I take into account the correction comments from Friday 13th.

In the past I seem to recall that electronic devices, possibly more the valve users, would demand a significant energy spike when turned on. To the extent that turning things on and off a lot was suggested to have a negative effect on component longevity.

If that is still a measurable factor in today's products, given the replace rather than repair design philosophy usually adopted, the whole life cost of abamdoning standby modes may be disadvantageous, though of course any device which merely runs an infra-red signal detector is only saving wear and tear and the on-off switch.

That said I have had problems with on/off switches before that resulted in device obsolescence due to lack of spare parts. (Hardwiring the inoperative switch to 'always on' and switching on and off at the mains was not felt to be appropriate!)

Against this background a TV reporter yesterday evening suggested that Mr. Blair would spend the last few weeks in his position of power flying around the world trying to broker a planet saving climate change treaty. Presumably that will result in several new forests of carbon offsets.

Glory glory.


Re: Re: Re: A technical question about electronics ...

Getting back to Grant's core question on electronics, as I understand it the answers are that :
a) Even though only the IR reciever is powered, it is through the main power supply, whose own losses will continue (eg transformer core losses, leakage, etc.
b) When integrated circuits operate they dissipate heat and all the different materials expand at different rates, stressing the components. Eventually something breaks. Keeping all the parts at constant temperature minimises this.
c) Leaving a TV set on standby can be a very bad idea for purely practical reasons. A friend actually watched his unused set burst into flames once. Had they been out, or asleep, or otherwise not present at the time it could have been disastrous. For that reason alone my parents always switch off at the wall (I'd do the same if I had one of the infernal things).

Re: Re: Re: Re: A technical question about electronics ...

On the fire risk from TV sets, there's a DTI report (1.68MB download) which shows the risk is very low.

In 1998 there were 16 fires per million UK TV sets, of which 12% of the fires occurred when the TV was unattended, either left on or in standby mode. That would make just under 2 standby-mode fires per million TV sets per year.

I think the fire risk was significantly worse decades ago and I vaguely remember a public information film telling people to unplug electrical appliances at night.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: A technical question about electronics ...

Agreed, Dave. The particular set I knew of was probably about 15 years old ten years ago. I suspect more modern ones will be much less likely to ignite. Wasn't the advice to unplug also to do with lightning strikes? However, why let the facts interfere with a good frightener. As we said in the army, "If you can't take a joke, you shouldn't have joined", which I've always found the most useful motto in life (apart from "Moderation in all things, especially moderation")