The average American home is brimming with consumer electronics and appliances - televisions, DVD players, stereos, and kitchen gadgets - the list goes on. All of these appliances are great to have when you need them, but they can add to your power bill even when they are turned off. These types of appliances can account for 15 percent of your power bill, and up to 40 percent of the energy they require is used when they are not running. Called "phantom" energy use, the power that clock displays, remote controls, and other features use in Off mode can really add up.
While altering the energy requirements of existing appliances is not possible, using consumer electronics mindfully or replacing them with energy efficient models will significantly reduce the amount of energy they require. Following are several ways to reduce the energy consumption of existing appliances:
- unplug chargers for cell phones and other electronics when the equipment is fully charged
- use a power strip as a central power supply for computers and peripheral equipment, video games, and other electronics. Turn off the power strip when the equipment is not in use.
- enable power management features on your computer, monitor, and other office equipment
- avoid using a screen saver on your computer's monitor; allow the monitor to switch to Sleep mode or turn it off when not in use
Consumer electronics engineers today design not only for functionality, but for energy efficiency. For example, an Energy Star computer monitor uses up to 85 percent less electricity than a standard model. To earn the Energy Star label, a monitor must be desined to run extremely efficiently in On, Sleep, and Off modes. Requiring less power in Sleep and Off modes ensures that the monitor operates cooler and lasts longer than a standard model. According toe Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Program, in an average home, using Energy Star office equipment (computer, monitor, printer, fax) could conserve enough electricity to light a home for more than four years.
Lowering energy consumption not only means smaller power bills, but a cleaner environment. The less energy we consume, the less greenhouse gasses are emitted, and the healthier the environment will be. Being mindful of the energy efficiency of any appliance purchased benefits homeowners, business owners, and the community at large.
For more information on minimizing phantom energy use, see http://www.energystar.gov/ or http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=find_a_product.showProductGroup&pgw_code=MO. Several podcasts about reducing the environmental impact of consumer electronics are available from Energy Star: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_podcasts. You can also visit the U.S. Department of Energy at http://eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/appliances/index.cfm/mytopic=10040