Many of us are professed technology addicts. There are gadgets and devices that help us do everything from getting up on time in the morning to staying connected with relatives and business partners that live halfway across the world.
While these mobile smart devices and digital appliances make our lives easier and give us something to brag about around the water cooler, the prolifieration of electric gadgets does not bode well for energy bills and the planet. Unless your family is particularly adventurous, it’s probably not a reality for you to abandon all of your gadgets all at once, so what is the aspiring energy conservationist to do?
Energy Circle founder Peter Troast was recently featured in a front page piece in the New York Times about something we can all relate to: How much energy all our increasing number of gadgets uses, and what to do about it.
Did you know that the average household went from 3 gadgets in 1980 to 25 in more recent years? When’s the last time you really went around your house and counted all of the devices that are constantly blinking and buzzing their way through thousands of watts of energy every day?
Like you, “Troast figured his household used a lot of power. Just how much did not really hit him until the night the family turned off the overhead lights at their home in Maine and began hunting gadgets that glowed in the dark” (NYT).
Even for average families, personal computers, iPods, cellphones, game consoles are constantly plugged in and consuming energy, even when they are not actually switched on. This is commonly referred to as “idle current usage” or “vampire energy.”
“Worldwide, consumer electronics now represent 15 percent of household power demand, and that is expected to triple over the next two decades, according to the International Energy Agency, making it more difficult to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming. To satisfy the demand from gadgets will require building the equivalent of 560 coal-fired power plants, or 230 nuclear plants, according to the agency” (NYT).
If you are convinced, as Troast was, that there has to be a way to use gadgets more efficiently in order to enjoy their benefits without sucking up quite so much energy (and money), you’re exactly right. Without much inconvenience, there are some simple changes that can be made to thwart these energe vampires before they get their teeth in your energy bill.
Vanquish the Vampires:
- For most families, seeing is all it takes to believe. Energy Circle recommends that families install a real time energy monitoring device, like the TED (The Energy Detective) in order to better visualize and understand how much energy the household is using.
- Another effective yet relatively inexpensive change is to plug as many of your electronic devices as possible into Smart Strips to control reduce the amount of energy that is used when the device is in idle or off modes.
- Of course, it’s best to start with the most energy efficient practices to begin with, so make sure that you are using Energy Star rated appliances when possible, ditch the dryer for a clothesline when possible, and replace conventional light bulbs for LEDs or CFLs as they burn out.
Image Credit: inhabitat.com