The world's 14 billion television set-top boxes, printers, game consoles and other electronic devices waste US$80 billion (NZ$91 billion) of power a year due to inefficient technology, according to the International Energy Agency.
"Electricity demand of our increasingly digital economies is growing at an alarming rate," the Paris-based adviser to developed nations said today in a report. By 2020, an estimated US$120 billion will be wasted as many devices use about the same amount of power even on standby.
Networked devices worldwide used about 616 terawatt-hours (TWh) of power in 2013, most of which was used in standby mode, according to the IEA. Of that amount, 400 TWh, or the amount consumed annually by the UK and Norway, was wasted because of inefficient technology, the agency said.
"The problem is not that these devices are often in standby mode, but rather that they typically use much more power than they should to maintain a connection and communicate with the network," Maria Van der Hoeven, the IEA's executive director, said in a statement accompanying the report. "Just by using today's best-available technology, such devices could perform exactly the same tasks in standby while consuming around 65 per cent less power."
Power demand is increasing as network connectivity spreads to appliances and devices such as washing machines, refrigerators and lights, the IEA said. The use of network- enabled utensils is projected to expand to about 50 billion units by 2020 and 100 billion the following decade, the agency estimated in 2012.
Improving the energy efficiency of networked devices in the coming years would save 600 TWh of energy, or the equivalent of shutting 200 standard 500 megawatt coal-fired power stations, the IEA said.
United Nations envoys are seeking to trim energy use and associated greenhouse-gas emissions to fight climate change. The negotiators are seeking to agree on a new global treaty next year that will come into force in 2020.