Introduction to Green Power

Listed below are observations about how energy is being wasted in everyday situations. By curtailing bad practices and embracing new technologies, we can dramatically reduce the power we consume.

Issues include...

Hunting Energy Vampires

Is this the scene under your desk?

Compact, energy-efficient cell-phone charger with EcoSmart Bulky, inefficient linear-type adapter - an "energy vampire"

Look around your house for external power supplies – the AC adapters that charge cell phones, cordless phones, modems, computer speakers, baby monitors, tools, and many other devices. They lurk in surprising numbers under your desk, in your garage, behind your TV set, and in your kitchen. ENERGY STAR estimates that the average household has up to ten of these devices plugged in all the time.

Some adapters get warm to the touch, even if they're not charging a device. These copper-and-iron "energy vampires" are continuously sucking electricity from the wall and burning it off as heat.

When shopping for electronic products, look for external power supplies that are compact and lightweight – chances are they'll remain cool to the touch when plugged in. These power supplies could save you $3 to $6 over the life of the product and help make a dent in greenhouse emissions.

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Hidden Energy Vampires

Power supplies are also found inside electronic products such as DVD players, TVs, desktop computers, and consumer appliances. It's not always possible to determine whether these products contain an EcoSmart chip or other energy-saving technology. However, looking for products with the ENERGY STAR label is a good way to ensure that you're buying a product that has some level of energy efficiency built in.

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Standby Power - A Growing Issue

According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), as much as 10 percent of a typical residential electric bill is spent on "standby" power – the power consumed while products are turned "off" or otherwise performing no useful function!

Most electronic products continue to consume power unless they are unplugged from the wall. TVs, DVD players, CD players and audio amplifiers consume power all the time. Any appliance with an LED display, touchpad controls or a clock – such as a microwave oven, refrigerator or dishwasher – is always on. Even a cell-phone charger left plugged into the wall consumes power, even when not charging the phone.

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Tips for Minimizing Standby Waste

  • Don't leave cell-phone chargers and other battery chargers plugged into the wall when they're not charging anything. Any heat coming from a power supply indicates wasted watts.

  • Consider unplugging kitchen and office products that are used infrequently. For example, external computer speakers are often powered by wasteful adapters that continuously draw power, even though the speakers may not be in use.

  • When leaving home for an extended period of time, consider unplugging as many electronic devices as possible. TVs, DVD players, audio equipment, cordless phones and coffee makers can cost you money if they're plugged in while you're gone.

LBNL offers a website that can help you measure standby power use in your home.

Additional Energy Efficiency Links:
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