Saturday, December 22, 2007

Improving your Home’s Energy Efficiency

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has done extensive studies of standby power since 1996 for the Department of Energy. They have found that for inefficient appliances, standby power use can be as high as 20 watts.

“For a single appliance, this may not seem like much,” the laboratory’s Web site says, “but when we add up the power use of the billions of appliances in the U.S., the power consumption of appliances that are not being used is substantial.”

The site provides an estimate for common appliances. This chart
gives the minimum, average and maximum power used by appliances that cannot be switched off completely without being unplugged. For television sets, the laboratory estimates a minimum power use of zero watts, an average of 5 watts and a maximum of 21.6 watts!

Take a look at the chart to brainstorm on what you can do to reduce some of this power drain. We can get the most bang for our effort by going after the biggest power sinks. Notice that the most significant power hogs are TVs, PC monitors and audio equipment. For large systems like this, its time to investigate the use of power strips for shutting off whole consoles of equipment.

For instance, a power strip would allow you to shut down a TV, VCR, DVD, cable box/satellite system, and audio system with one switch. Another common console could be the PC, monitor, printer, fax, scanner, cable convertor, speakers and router. Wow, those peripherals start adding up, don’t they? Some of these items have an “always on” LED or an active remote control circuit that is the root cause of standby power drain.

I already have power strips for both of these systems, I just can’t get to the switches easily. So, I rearranged the setups, organized the power cords and mounted one strip on the back of my stereo speaker. I placed the PC system switch on the lowest shelf in my desk. Now, both switches are more accessible.

It was pretty simple to do this, yet the payback was rewarding. I really like knowing that I am becoming more efficient and at least making an effort to reduce my footprint on the worlds energy landscape. And maybe I will save a few dollars, in the process.

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