A team of researchers from the UPC Center for Technological Innovation in Static Converters and Actuators (CITCEA-UPC) has designed the device 100 Percent Off, which disconnects electronic appliances in stand-by mode and reduces their power consumption to zero. The device is compatible with all existing appliances, and the technology is adaptable to other equipment manufactured in the future.
Over the course of a year, the relative cost of running an appliance is higher in stand-by than when it is switched on, as it spends more time in stand-by mode. According to a study carried out by the European Commission in 2005, household appliances in stand-by mode consume 50 TWh (terawatt-hours) per year in the EU alone. This figure, which is equivalent to the annual consumption of a country like Greece or Portugal, represents a total energy cost of 7000 million euros per year and the emission of 20 million tons of CO2.
100% Off will provide household energy savings of 12% by automatically overriding stand-by mode and switching appliances off. In Spain, where the average household spends €367 per year on electricity (according to the latest National Energy Commission report), the elimination of stand-by mode would represent an annual saving of €44.
The system, patented and marketed by the Madrid-based company Good For You, Good for the Planet, also protects against power surges and extends the useful life of appliances.
The device stems from a research project aimed at improving household energy efficiency by controlling the power consumption of individual appliances. This led to the development of a microprocessor that measures the current consumed by an appliance to detect when it is in stand-by mode and switch it off.
100% Off contains an 8-bit microprocessor programmed to run a mathematical algorithm that identifies power modes by measuring the current consumed during normal operation and in stand-by. Miquel Teixidó, a UPC researcher and director of the project, explained that the benefits of this innovation will also be felt outside the home, as it could potentially lower total residential electricity consumption by between 10 and 20% and reduce CO2 emissions by 1%.
The 100% Off device is a power strip for connecting multiple appliances, some of which can be switched off while others are left in stand-by mode. The device has a green button for switching appliances back on when required.
The system can be integrated into new household appliances, and in the future, 100% Off technology will be compatible with a range of devices, such as laser printers which need to switch between stand-by and off modes.