December 14, 2007
| by Steven Castle
The same, in principal, happens with battery chargers. If you detach the cell phone but leave the charger plugged in, it will continue to draw power.
Portable printers and scanners that are operated by software programs often don’t even have off switches, and these can be very problematic if left plugged in. An unused but connected scanner can draw 12 watts continuously, says Meier.
We’re likely to see much more efficient electronics as this becomes a more well-known issue. According to most experts I’ve spoken to, the cost to manufacturers to design their products to use energy more efficiently should not result in an increase in pricing. In many cases, the design changes are simple. But what are your options to save energy, money and a piece of the planet in the meantime?
First, Meier says, unplug anything you don’t use often, like your old VCR. Then plug as much of your other gear into surge suppression strips with switches on them, and switch them off when you’re not using them. We’re told by surge suppression strip makers that a surge suppressor will still stop a surge when switched off, as the circuit is broken. Just make sure it’s a surge suppressor—a good one—and not just a “power strip.” Whenever you buy new electronics or appliances, look for Energy Star-rated models. And if you want to check on what’s using power in your home and how much, buy a Kill-A-Watt device. It’s not 100 percent accurate, but it will give you a good idea of what’s using too much electricity.
We won’t even go into cable and satellite TV receivers and many TiVo players that remain always on (for cable boxes, that’s about 30 watts being drawn 24/7). Energy Star is in the process of developing a spec for more efficient set-top boxes. More on this later.
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