March 25, 2009 Here’s a thought – the amount of time a domestic appliance like a television spends on standby over the course of a year actually costs more than the time it spends in use. To counteract this remarkable waste of money and energy comes a device called “100% Off” – a very switched on idea.

“100% Off” was originally conceived as part of a study aimed at improving household energy efficiency by controlling the power consumption of individual appliances. The device utilizes an 8-bit microprocessor programmed to run a mathematical algorithm that identifies different power modes. By measuring the current consumed during both normal operation and standby, the appliances can be automatically turned off when not in use.

The invention is claimed to be able to save households up to 20% of their electricity bill, as well as reducing global CO2 emissions by 1%. That’s no mean feat when considering that recent studies revealed that in the EU alone, appliances left on standby are responsible for an estimated 20 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

This device has been created as either a single plug-in or as a power board with several sockets that allows for multiple appliances. The user is able to have some units switched off while others remain on – for example a computer monitor can be shut down while a PC stays on if necessary. As well as being compatible with all existing household appliances, there are plans to make the technology applicable for more advanced equipment such as laser printers.

The “100% Off” design was developed by a team from the University of Catalonia (UPC) and is being patented and brought to market by Good for You, Good for the Planet. With an estimated 10 billion appliances worldwide using a stand-by mode, that's a large target market. There are also plans to integrate the technology into newly manufactured appliances.

Mick Webb