February 2nd, 2010 | Published in Google.org
"Always On" power is the lowest level of sustained power used during a day-long period. On our energy-monitoring software tool, Google PowerMeter, this shows up as a dark green bar on your power usage graph. We've found that American users, on average, have 589 watts of electrical power being consumed all day long. What items are using all this electricity?
- "Vampire loads" - appliances that don't really turn off, even when you're not actively using them
- Old appliances, especially refrigerators
- Lights that are never turned off
- Outdoor lights
- Cable box or DVR
- Computers that never turn off
- Electric water heaters
Here's the good news: It's typically very easy to reduce your Always On power. Below is a graph of a household that did just that. This household started reducing electricity use by turning off their outdoor lighting (green period) instead of leaving the lights on all day (red period). That change reduced the average Always On from 420 watts to 300 watts. That 120 watt Always On reduction can yield hundreds of dollars in estimated savings over a single year!
On January 27, 2010, almost 40% of Google PowerMeter users had Always On levels at over 500 watts. If these users reduced that amount by just 100 watts each, that's a significant cumulative savings. (Look for more of these aggregate analyses of our data in the future as we continue to learn more about how people use electricity.)