Post-holiday electronics madness: how to conserve electricity
As kids, my siblings and I would always be running in and out of every room in the house. We would turn the TV on in one room, have the stereo blasting from another room, and leave the lights on in every room in between. My father would come home from work, see that his day’s check had already been spent on the electricity bill, and would then ask us if we owned stock in Commonwealth Edison.
I never understood what the big deal was until I got older and learned about the unnecessary waste of electricity and expenses that come with leaving everything on all the time. This particularly becomes an issue during the holiday season when, in addition to the trees and lights taking a toll on the electric bill, we often receive gifts under the tree that require life from plugging them into the wall.
The National Resources Defense Council recently reported on four simple ways of adjusting your electronic usage in order to benefit your electric bill as well as the environment.
First suggested was changing the picture settings on your new flat screen. Although new models tend to use less energy than older versions, you may be wasting more energy than necessary without realizing. In order to eliminate energy waste, go to the picture set-up menu on your TV and choose either the “home” or “standard” setting. This cuts out settings titled “vivid” or “retail”, which tend to be brighter than necessary and are said to burn 15-20% more energy.
One of the most important steps
Newer televisions are becoming more and more likely to come Internet ready. This means that you can have access to video streaming built right into the television. Having television and the Internet blend into one, convenient device allows the elimination of secondary devices, such as an Xbox or a Playstation, to perform the same task. Ending the use of these devices to stream shows will cut down on energy costs. However if your television does not have Internet applications built in, the NRDC suggests the use of Chromecast or a Roku which only uses less than 5 watts.
An extremely important step in energy conservation is making sure your devices are not still using electricity while not in use. For many devices this can simply be done by unplugging them, i.e. phone chargers and kitchen appliances. However devices that continuously stay plugged in, such as televisions, computers, and gaming consoles, have settings that can be adjusted in order to lessen your bill.
Even if a gaming console appears to be off, it can still be taking in electricity, which can waste up to $75 worth of energy annually. In order to stop this from happening, go into the settings on the console and enable the “auto power down” feature that will turn the system off after one hour of inactivity.
How to save $40 this year on this one device
Desktop computers are also known to waste energy when not in use and the NRDC reports that a computer running all day, every day for a year can waste up to $40 worth of energy. This can be avoided by putting your computer to sleep when it is not in use. Also try to avoid the use of screen savers when the computer is idle, as this is shown to be an energy waster.
Lastly, the NRDC suggests that, instead of throwing away your old devices, it is best to hang onto them or give them to others who will use them. This is due to smartphones, tablets, etc. representing up to 80% of the manufacture’s total carbon footprint and it is better to hang on to these devices rather than let them waste in a landfill.
Now having the knowledge of ways to reduce energy wastes and costs, you will be able to enjoy your new gadgets all the more. And if you have that one neighbor that just will not turn off his Christmas lights, take my father’s advice and invest in some ComEd stock to pay for next year’s presents.