Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Is your computer a vampire?

...or your TV, home cinema, videogame, sound system, chargers, transformers and adapters, microwave, anything with a standby display. They suck energy even when they are not turned on!

Click on graphic to see details -- courtesy of Geeks are sexy

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates "vampire power" consumption at 200-400 terawatts per year, an astonishing 5-15 percent of home energy use in developed countries. The percentage in commercial buildings is also high. Our standby power use causes ~1% of global CO2 emissions and is expected to triple by 2030. It can be reduced 30-75 percent. How?

  • See this table of energy hogs. Computer monitors and printers are high on the list.
  • If you don't frequently use a device, unplug it. This works fine for the extra TV, VCR or DVD. A monitor left on can cost you $125 a year! (US data)
  • Use a power bar (aka surge protector) for clusters of computer or video products. You can switch everything off with one button.
  • Shop for low standby appliances. Your microwave clock uses more energy over its lifetime than all its food heating combined. Don't frequently unplug and plug in major appliances because you could get electrocuted from frayed wires and plugs.
  • Unplug the chargers of your toothbrush, cellphone. Any black box adapter sucks power.
  • Buy a low-cost watt-meter (photo at right), measure the devices in your home and take targeted action. You will be surprised at what you find; the power savings could pay the meter's cost.
"As one global nation seeking lower CO2 emissions, we must get back to basics and extend a reliable and efficient power supply – from strategic technology developments for next generation high performance batteries for consumer devices and electric vehicles to large-scale battery energy storage systems (BESS) for grid interconnections. We're at a critical path, where together everyone can focus on minimizing unnecessary power pull." – Professor Ryuichi Yokoyama, IEEE Fellow

See also Wikipedia on Standby power, MEPS, Energy Star controversies; "occupancy sensors" described by BC Hydro and Wattstopper turn off when you are not in the room.

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