Thursday, May 22, 2008

Avoiding Power Vampires

we're talking about vampire power, phantom loads, idling standby current, and wall warts. They all basically refer to the same thing: electronic devices with two sharp, pointy teeth that latch into your wall sockets and suck blood...err...electricity all day, all night, whether on or "off," whether charging batteries or not. These devices include TV's, VCR's, DVD players, answering machines, iPods, cell phones, stereos, laptops, desktops, anything with a remote, anything with a charger, anything with a clock display. They are everywhere. Lurking.

Top 10 ways for you to fight the vampires

1. Unplug your devices
2. Reduce your demand
3. Use the other off switch
4. Plug your devices and chargers into a power strip
5. Remove chargers from the wall when you're not charging
6. If you're in the market for new electronics, buy Energy Star qualified.
7. Get a phone that tells you to unplug it.
8. For your various computer accessories, try a smart strip.
10. If you're up for a whole house project, check out GreenSwitch

Basics of vampire power

Most people think that when you turn something off, it actually turns off. Most people assume that it stops drawing power. Unfortunately, that's not true in the case of most electric devices. Most of them just hover in standby mode, waiting for you to 'turn on' the power again.

A 1999 study in New Zealand conducted by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority indicated that 40% of microwave ovens used more electricity to power the clock and the keypad over the course of the year than actually heating food. Big screen TV's (and their respective cable boxes and satellites) up to 30 watts when off. A computer left turned on can potentially draw as much current as a refrigerator. And what about those chargers? Even when your cell phone (or other battery operated device) isn't charging, even if it's not even plugged in, it's still drawing power. It may even add as much as 10% to your energy bill.

This is bad news for your wallet and bad news for the environment. Studies conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimate that standby power consumption in the US accounts for 5% of all residential power consumption. That means Americans spend more than $3.5 billion annually on wasted power. It also means that our standby power is responsible for 27 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that globally standby power is responsible for 1% of carbon dioxide emissions (to contextualize that number, it is estimated that 2-3% of CO2 emissions are from air travel). And let's be honest. Those numbers are probably growing given the affinity many of us have for new gadgets and fancy appliances.

Read from Green Home.

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