Many of use worry, rightfully so, about our environment. Many more worry about their electric bill. We are constantly looking for ways to help conserve energy and reduce waste. In the home, we usually think of large appliances and our heating and cooling systems as the primary energy hogs. Energy-star rated appliances help reduce consumption of water, electricity, and gas by simply using better technologies. Home owners have the option to buy energy efficient windows, doors, and insulation to reduce energy loss. We can buy light bulbs that last, air-circulators to help us stay cool, and we can all just turn off the lights behind us. But what else is going on in our home?
Turn off all the lights and appliances in your home. Turn off the A/C or Heater, pool pump, etc. Unplug your refrigerator. Now go outside and look at your meter. Still spinning right? The average home has 1.2 computers, more TVs then people, computer peripherals, satellite receivers, digital recorders, cable boxes, routers, modems, digital phones, DVD players, VCRs, home stereos, LCD monitors, iPods, smart-appliances, etc. Per the DOE (Department of Energy), 75% of energy consumed in the average home, is consumed by home electronics that are ‘turned off’! That’s right. Even when your home electronics are not doing anything, they are still consuming electricity. Also note that electricity is being converted to heat. Just place your hand on top of your digital cable box, or hold a power adapter in your hand. Even when off, it is still working, and that heat that is generated, heats up the area, which heats up the room, which increases the homes ambient temperature, which in turn, triggers your A/C to turn on, which consumes more power. This is pure ‘wasted’ power, being that power is being consumed for absolutely no reason except to be ‘ready’ and create heat.
There are some ways you can help curve this energy consumption, with out throwing out your electronic toys and gadgets:
1. Put all your home office and home entertainment equipment on surge protectors. When your done for the day, power down your equipment, and then turn the switch ‘off’ on the surge protector. This is smart practice even if your not concerned about your electric bill or the environment. It helps protect your equipment from power surges and puts less run-time on your system power supplies, which means they’ll last longer. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule like if you DVR shows that run late at night, or need your digital phone on all the time. You can always put these electronic devices on a seperate power supply and leave on. Just assess your situation and do what you can.
2. Same applies if you leave the home for vacation or work. You can turn off your non-essential home electronics before you leave, reducing energy loss. Don’t forget to turn up the A/C and turn down the water heater, close the blinds on all your windows.
3. Lazy like me? Power management systems for the home. There is a slue of devices available on the market today, which will help you manage and monitor your home energy use. Majority of these can be ‘wired’ directly into your home and can tell you what is using how much energy when. Some provide remote monitoring and control and some can be programmed for automation.
4. Set your PCs, laptops, and notebooks sleep mode. Most computers have the sleep function built in, and set to a default time for entering sleep mode. Simply adjust it to your specifications. 5 or 10 minutes here and there will save you and your computer in the long run.
5. Manage your computer applications. Most computer users are unaware of the number of applications running on their computer, even when not being used. These programs are usually set to run automatically on start-up, even if you don’t need them. A large percentage of these programs are non-essential, and utilize your system resources, which increases CPU and RAM utilization, which requires more energy, which generates more heat, which in turn, causes energy loss. It’s a good idea to go through msconfig and stop any non-essential programs from auto-running to both save energy, and increase your system’s performance. If you don’t know how to do this, have a computer geek friend help you.
6. Eco-Utilities. Now, many application developers are offering system utilities that can help you manage your computers power and resource utilization. Like Toshiba’s Eco Utility, which allows you to set a system ‘eco-mode’, reducing resource utilization. It also helps you monitor and track your energy use over time, so you can see trends, and note what activities cause you to use the most energy.
Estimates vary, and its hard to say how much any individual home could potentially save. But a few simple green-facts
note: Carbon emissions calculated at http://www.carbonify.com/carbon-calculator.htm, kilowatt usage estimates taken from DOE, Energy-Star, EPA, and various component manufacturer websites
1. Using a computer eco-utility, setting sleep mode, and reducing the number of applications running on a single PC could save you around 800-900 kilowatt/hours a year. Based on U.S. fossil-fuel power generation, that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about .675 tons, or 1350 pounds annually. Thats the equivelant to the emmissions from one mid-sized car driving 3/4 across the U.S
2. Turning off all ‘standby’ electronics in a home when not in use would save the average household, 32oo-4000 kilowatt/hours a year.
3. A large company with 400 computers running an average of 8-hours a day, generally the average is 120 watts per computer or 48,000 watts for all computers per hour. A typical day is 384,000 watts or 384 kilowatts. This would equal greater than $840.00 per month on average.
4. These facts do not account for vampire loss or power loss at adapters and devices not doing anything. It also does not account for secondary-impacts for cooling required to keep the components cool.