December 10, 2009
| by Steven Castle
Basically, any electronic device with a clock, an LED light or readout or a touchpad will continue to pull a small amount or power when it’s not being used.
But these small amounts add up to about 5 percent of our electricity consumption. That may not seem like much, but it’s estimated that 40 percent of the electricity used by our home electronics is consumed when they’re not being used. That’s undeniable wasteful.
The solution? Cut power to these devices when they’re not being used. You’re not going to want to unplug a microwave oven or cut power to your smoke detectors or garage door openers, but you can better regulate the power use of most of your electronics by using switchable surge suppressors and switching them off. Or get smart surge strips that cut power to connected devices when a computer or TV is off or in sleep mode. They’re cool, they work, and they’ll save you money.
Convenience. Convenience. Convenience. The appeal of much of our electronics is convenience. And yes, saving energy can be convenient. Smart surge strips are much more convenient than manually switching off a surge suppressor to save energy.
Lighting control systems also offer great convenience by offering energy savings and only using the lights you need and automatically shutting off those that you don’t. But you don’t need to invest a bundle in lighting or home control to have energy savings and convenience. Some simple dimmer switches can conserve power—dimming a light by 10 percent is unnoticeable to most people.
And relatively inexpensive occupancy and vacancy sensors can automatically shut off lights when they detect no motion in a room. Look to invest in smart and programmable thermostats, and program them to cut back on your heating and cooling when no one is home or everyone’s asleep. Turning your HVAC system back one degree in temperature can save you significantly.
Want real convenience? Invest in good LED lamps and you’ll save more energy and not have to buy a replacement for years.
Better Performance. Energy-saving electronics have gained a bad rap for compromising performance, especially in audio and video. Until recently, that criticism has been warranted. But some of today’s energy-saving LED-backlit LCD TVs, for example, offer much better contrast and black levels than traditional fluorescent-lit LCDs, especially if they feature “local dimming” that turns the LEDs off in dark areas of a scene.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates