Think just because the TV's off it's not using any energy? Think again. As this story in the New York Times
makes clear, many ordinary household appliances and electronic devices -- everything from phone rechargers to cable modems -- are sucking energy from the grid 24/7
. Not a ton of energy, mind you, but multiplied across the country, it's a horrendous waste -- roughly a billion dollars a year in squandered electrons. The answer: Government regulation. Why not let market forces do the trick? Well, as the Times
It doesn't cost much to make a more efficient device: sometimes just 50 cents a unit.... But consumers don't consider invisible energy use - "there's no labeling of power use in 'standby,' " Mr. Meier [a senior energy analyst at the International Energy Agency] said, and "no way for people to recognize what a low-standby device is" - making government-imposed energy efficiency the best hope.