A new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Miscellaneous Energy Loads in Buildings, found that all of these random devices add up to 7.8 quadrillion BTUs every year, nearly as much as water heating, refrigeration and cleaning and cooking combined.
Americans are buying more gadgets than ever before, but those gadgets are not using more energy collectively. Why not? Well, according to a new report from the research firm Fraunhofer USA and commissioned by the Consumer Electronics Association, more efficient TV technology and a switch from desktop and laptop computers to tablets delivered a sizable drop in the total energy use by gadgets in the U.S. in 2013.
The Fraunhofer report commissioned by the CEA, a new report from the International Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring reliable and clean energy, says that the electricity demand of networked devices around the world in 2008—420 terawatt-hours—was equal to that of France; in 2013 the demand surpassed that of Canada, reaching 616 terawatt-hours. By 2025, the report projects, networked devices will account for 6 percent of global electricity demand at 1,140 terawatt-hours. As much as 80 percent of that demand will be used just to maintain a network connection, keeping devices ready and waiting.
“In their current state, network-enabled devices carry an inherent paradox,” the IEA report says. “They have enormous potential to deliver diverse efficiencies across many sectors and services, yet they fall far short of their own potential to be energy efficient.”
Simply minimizing power consumption in standby mode, according to the IEA, could reduce the electricity demand of the world’s devices by 600 terawatt-hours annually by 2020.