Save Energy — Electronics

There is not much more enjoyable than sitting back and watching your favorite movie in high definition on a wide screen television drowned in surround sound. The level of technology for home entertainment is amazing. Many older adults may remember black and white television and adjusting the “rabbit ears” when changing to one of the three or four available channels. The fact that today’s entertainment comes with a price in no surprise to anyone. Less known is that all this equipment spins your electric meter faster.

Your Home Energy Living Plan

  • Do not leave televisions, stereos, dvd players on when not being used.
  • Pay attention to power requirements when purchasing components.
  • Rent a movie and go see it at a friends house.
Impact of Your Energy Saving Actions

Electronic devices account for about 6% of the average US home’s annual energy costs. If you have upgraded past the typical home, then your use will be greater. Due to the desire for bigger and better it would be hard to significantly reduce this amount. The public must keep pressure on manufacturers to design for energy efficiency including energy use during standby mode.

How Energy is Lost

Electronic components have grown in capacity and capability, along with this growth is the energy they consume. Also there are more components involved in watching TV. First you need a large screen TV, preferable a HD plasma. Then you need surround sound which has large speakers and an amplifier to drive them. To see your favorite movies you need a DVD player. To watch broadcast programs you need cable or satellite boxes. Since other family members do not like your tastes, they have a nearly duplicate setup elsewhere in the home.

The above may be exaggerated, but the point is the use of electricity climbs as you upgrade your entertainment.

Characteristics of Electronics

You can look at the label on your equipment to see its electrical rating. If this rating is in watts, then that is the maximum power it pulls. If the rating is in amps, then multiple the amps by your nominal voltage. In the United States this is 120 volts. When the electronic device is on it may pull the rated wattage only for a short period of time.

Modern electronics have standby modes. Obviously when the device is on it uses electricity. But even in “off” mode the device can use energy. Many components go into standby when turned off. There are two reasons for this. Standby keeps some parts in the device “hot” so that when you turn it on, it responds quickly. The other reason is to maintain user programmed information. Regardless of how much the device pulls when on, standby power can be 5 to 20 watts. This does not seem like much, but is being used all the time. In one day this can be 120 to 480 watt-hours. This can be equal to one or two hours of the device in the on status. So if you watch TV for 3 hours, you are paying for 5 hours worth of electricity.

Often overlooked is the cable or satellite box. These devices may use less energy than the DVD or TV, but they use energy even when you are not watching TV. Unfortunately there is little you can do. Keep pressure on manufacturer and service provider to provide efficient equipment. If you have had your box for several years, you may check with your provider to see if a more efficient box is available.

Energy Solutions Explained

Turning electronic devices off when not in use will prevent unnecessary use of energy. When looking to purchase new devices, compare power ratings. Look for Energy Star qualified televisions, VCR, DVD, and audio devices.

Review your owner’s manual as to the purpose of standby mode. In some cases you can unplug the device. However with many devices this would require constant reprogramming making it unpractical to unplug the device

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