Gladstone man is standing by for built-in power saving in homes

ByAndrew Allen

The modern scourge of “standby power wastage” could become a thing of the past with an Australian innovation that hardwires a standby power saving system into new homes.

The average Australian home now runs an estimated 20 appliances that draw power 24 hours a day / 365 days a year – whether they’re switched on or not.

The Federal Government estimates standby power accounts for more than 10 per cent of Australia’s household electricity usage, and recognises standby power consumption as an area where significant energy savings can be made (

Gladstone born electrician Daniel O’Dwyer, the inventor of Switchmate – a new standby power saving system that is installed during construction of new homes – said this power leakage could be almost completely eliminated.

“Ever since manufacturers first developed “instant-on” TVs that started up without needing to warm up, the number of devices that go into a standby mode has exploded,” he said.

“TVs, DVD players, stereos, Foxtel units, microwaves, PCs, air conditioners… these days the list can be endless.

“Basically the only way to stop standby power leaking is to unplug everything or install standby power saving technology.”

Mr O’Dwyer said Switchmate worked by adding a second power cable to run parallel to the standard cable throughout homes during construction.

“One cable supplies electricity for the appliances you need to stay on all the time like your fridge, the other is for anything that can be removed from the power source.

“Both cables can run to every power point in the house.

“A remote button shuts down the power to the second cable and any appliance connected to it, effectively eliminating any standby power wastage.

“All that’s required is an extra power cable, an extra circuit breaker and a few hours more labour.

“It’s a much cheaper, more efficient way to do it than retrofitting external devices.”

The complete Switchmate package along with the DPS wiring system is expected to add just $1500 to the cost of a new home.

Installing the system enhances a home’s green star rating, and decreases the chance of appliances catching fire while in standby mode.

Mr O’Dwyer is in discussions with housing industry bodies and said the system could become a mandatory feature in new homes.

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