Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Low-hanging fruit

Our local paper had an article over the weekend about "standby power". This is the term for electricity consumed by electronics and appliances when they are not in use.

They had another interesting article on the same day about an ice-based air conditioning system that the R&D folks at the nearby Honda plant came up with to cut their energy usage. I guess conservation is coming into vogue again.

But back to the standby power article. Here are a few quotes that I found surprising: the average home, 40 percent of the electricity consumed by small appliances is used while the devices are turned off. Nationally, that standby power equals the electricity generated by 17 power plants.

"As a country, we spend $1 billion (a year) for electricity used by televisions while they are turned off," said Maria Vargas, a spokeswoman for the EPA.

"My rule of thumb is that the cost of standby electricity over the year is equal to what you pay for an average monthly electric bill," said Alan Meier, a scientist specializing in electrical energy research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that standby power consumes about 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy in a typical home.

If Americans switched just those items to energy-efficient models, the reduced need for electricity would eliminate 25 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from power plants — a reduction equal to removing 3 million cars off the road for a year...

I think I need to put in some power strips that I can shut off on my way to bed. Seems easy enough... Of course, I'm about ready to throw away all my electronics right now, but that's another post...


At 8/10/2006 10:54 AM, Blogger madcapmum said...

Hmm, now I'm looking around and seeing what could be upplugged. We already unplug the t.v and dvd player every night, but the computer? Seems to me that messes it up when I disconnect it entirely. Hmmm... I'll go take a walk-through.

At 8/10/2006 11:30 AM, Blogger e4 said...

From the article, it sounds like some other candidates are appliances, particularly those with soft-touch buttons or clocks, battery chargers, and anything with one of those blocky transformer things on it. I've always wondered why so many appliances need clocks!

At 8/10/2006 5:12 PM, Blogger barefoot gardener said...

Scary to think that I am using that much power when I have turned everything off!


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