Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘energy use’

energy efficiency for computersMost of us are pretty dedicated to the digital lifestyle, and with good reason. Who could possibly edit a photo, find the way to the bar, or make a meal without all the wonderful websites that make our lives so much easier? As you might suspect, our fascination with all things screen-based requires a lot of energy for both the source but also for the data: about 10% of global electricity usage is for the digital economy alone. According to Greenpeace, “if cloud computing were a country, it would rank sixth in the world on the basis of how much electricity it uses.” Yikes!

While there’s no way to truly eliminate our use of digital technology, there are some ways that you can make your computer and devices work smarter for you and for the planet.

Here are some tips to reduce the energy use of your computers:

  • Use the energy settings on your computer: Set up your energy saving mode as soon as you get your computer, as they are not set automatically by the manufacturer.
  • Put it to sleep or shut it down: Tucking your computer in for sleep mode (if it’s not automatic, see above) is the most efficient thing to do if you’re going to step away for a coffee break. If you are done for the day, you should turn it off completely. Energy.gov says that most computers will not wear out their on/off capabilities in their lifespan. These actions can save you up to $75/year in energy costs!
  • Use a smart strip: A smart strip is like a power strip but has “master” plugs that turn on other plugs. For example, if your desk has a computer, a printer, a charger and speakers, the computer would be the “master” that limits when the other items turn on and draw power, reducing the vampire power of the other items. When the computer turns off, all other items immediately turn off and are unable to draw any power. (Here’s more info about smart strips.) You can unplug all phone and tablet chargers when not in use to avoid the vampire power they suck up, too.
  • Darken the screens: For Androids and other devices with non-LCD displays, setting your screen (and themes in apps) to black or other dark colors can make a difference in battery usage and thus electricity use.
  • Skip the screensavers: They are mesmerizing indeed, but screensavers don’t actually save electricity. In fact, Energy Star says they can actually increase the energy usage of computers! Instead, turn your screen to black, put your computer to sleep, or turn it off entirely.
  • Clean up your cloud: The data that we store in the cloud seems safe and far away, but it is creating serious energy demands every day. All those apps, games, Instagram photos, and everything else saved in the cloud means your iPhone uses more electricity overall than a refrigerator! To reduce your overall cloud impact, delete what you don’t want and keep your files clean.

Want to learn more about how to decrease your digital footprint? Check out these great resources:

keep calm86054Leaf computer image from here; keep calm image from here

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

LED light bulb green livingTurning off your lights is an Action that is incredibly simple, yet incredibly important. Just how important depends on which type of light bulbs you have in your home or office. According to the US Department of Energy, incandescent and halogen lights should be turned off any time you leave the room because of high consumption of energy. Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) should be turned off if you are not going to be using them for 15 minutes or more; the longevity of CFLs is affected by how often they are turned on/off and they wear out with quick on/off switches. If you have invested in LEDs, the most efficient option for long-term energy and money savings, you can save even more by turning them off each time you leave a room. The longevity of LED lights is not affected by switching on/off too often.

The Energy Collective puts it into perspective: “leaving lights on [while you’re gone for eight hours] costs you roughly 6 cents for a normal light and a bit over 1 cent for modern bulbs. Obviously this isn’t going to break the bank, but if that light switch you forgot to flick off actually runs five lights in the kitchen, we’re talking 30 cents a day, and that bad habit adds up to $110 per year!”

If you want to nerd out and calculate exactly how much you can save by flipping off the switches, the Department of Energy has detailed directions on their site. Keep in mind that daily or even weekly costs will be minimal. However, it’s important to look at all calculations in yearly cost and yearly energy savings. Extrapolating that data to your whole home, your office, your neighborhood, your city, and beyond can demonstrate how powerful a simple action like this can be for saving energy and reducing your footprint.

Can’t remember to turn out the lights? The image below is a fun way to help kids big and small remember to turn lights off. And this article has some great tips for teaching children about energy efficiency and reasons for turning off the lights.

If your family just can’t remember to flip the switch, invest in sensors, smart strips, or other automated home technologies so that you can turn the lights off automatically or remotely.

how-get-kids-save-energy_9411042c76bb513fdea8eef1a788fd6c_3x2lightbulb image from here

Read Full Post »

gaming consoles are tarnishing your green lifestyleSo the holidays have come and gone, and with them a flurry of new games and consoles for the good gamers on your lists. While the diversion is delightful, it turns out that gaming consoles have a bit of a dark side too. These amazing devices are using more power than ever, which means they are costing extra money and energy each time we sit down to play. Zelda would not approve.

The New York Times reported that current gaming consoles are using about 60-80% more energy than previous models. What accounts for that ridiculous increase when almost every other home appliance and tool has become MORE energy efficient in recent years?

Turns out that the devices have increased in electricity usage because of changes to memory, larger hard drives and better graphics. The cost of running them alone is not huge (about $5-10 each year based on average 6.4 weekly hours, according to the NYT article), but most of the energy used for the console is when the device is off! According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the majority of the energy expended for gaming is from when the console is on standby mode, as the system is waiting for voice commands and keeping USB ports ready — all day (or all night) long! Simply turning off the console will reduce the energy usage by a significant amount of this vampire power. You might need to spend a few minutes setting up the console, but the trade off is immense:

“[Nearly] half of the Xbox One’s annual energy is consumed in connected standby, when the console continuously draws more than 15 watts while waiting for the user to say ‘Xbox on,’ even in the middle of the night or during the workday when no one is home. If left unchanged, this one feature will be responsible for $400 million in annual electricity bills and the equivalent annual output of a large, 750-megawatt power plant.”

In addition to the live and vampire energy use of the consoles, the whole entertainment package needs to be taken into consideration, too. Those larger-than-life TVs, wireless internet and other accessories integral to the function of the consoles mean that gaming can be a huge energy suck in the home. A large plasma screen TV can consume 250 kilowatt hours a year, about half of what it takes to power a refrigerator!

power use gaming consoles graph[image: screen capture NRDC)

This doesn’t mean you have to give up gaming or TV; it just means you need to take some smart steps in the home to eliminate these vampires of energy consumption:

  • Use consoles for gaming only: the PS4 and Xbox One use 30 to 45 times more power to stream a movie than a dedicated device, like Apple TV or Google Chromecast.
  • Let your superheros, villains and zombies sleep: Unplug the TV, internet, gaming console and all components at night and when you’re gone for the day; the gaming consoles use a lot of energy when  in standby mode, as do most other electronics.
  • Choose a device with less energy consumption. In reviews, the Nintendo Wii proved to use significantly less energy than Xbox or Play Station, using almost no power when on standby and using less during play, too.
  • Tell the company! Make your voice heard by the companies that make products you love! Share your passion for gaming AND for a cleaner climate with Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, and encourage them to improve the efficiency of gaming consoles to save consumers money and be a better business for the planet!

Join the community of Climate Heroes: click here to join our newsletter!

andrea head shot circleAbout the Author: Andrea Bertoli helps to spread awareness of personal climate impacts via social media, blogging, advertising and community outreach for Oroeco.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: