Saturday, March 21, 2009

Just a connector ? Well, think again

You probably think that an innocent-looking power strip would not use even a single drop of power because it’s just a connector, right? Well, think again. It turns out that a power strip does consume power even if it is just plugged into the wall with nothing else attached to it – about 0.02-watt, that is. While this does not amount to much, multiply it with the number of power strips you have at home and the hours they are left on, and this should come up to a few additional watts, which could have been used for bedtime reading or charging a couple of mobile phones.

The same principle goes for your phone charger: It still draws power even if you’re not charging your phone, so turn off the mains when you’re done charging. Not only will this reduce unnecessary power consumption, but also prolong the life of your charger.

Similarly, that Astro decoder consumes a whopping nine watts just by sitting there, regardless if it is on standby mode showing the time or in actual use. Likewise for your DVD player, big flat-screen TV, amplifiers, microwave oven and others – all another good few watts even on standby mode.

And if you’re an audiophile, you probably know that the higher you crank up your speakers, typically beyond the midway point, they will start consuming more power due to higher resistance.

Toasters, breadmakers, electric ovens, stoves, hot shower heaters and basically any heating or cooling element, all generally consume large amounts of electricity. And if you have a frontloader, try turning the temperature down to zero, as even if at 30 degrees Celsius it will still warm the water and waste electricity.

Getting energy savings from your computer, be it a desktop or notebook, isn’t rocket science, either. Unlike the other appliances, if you step away from your machine, you can just turn off the monitor rather than wait for the operating system to put it to sleep mode. Notebooks have sleep modes that can be configured when you close the lid.

Not using that universal serial bus external hard disk, printer, scanner or external speaker? Turn it off.

If you’re upgrading to a bigger hard disk, get something slightly bigger and copy all the data to the new disk; installing two drives is just plain wasteful because each 3.5-inch hard drive consumes 15 watts of power, more for the older ones.

Enabling the processor power-saving functions also goes a long way to reducing your power dependency. And obviously, if you’re not using your computer, turn it off.

Much like hybrid cars, energy-efficient devices are not the one-stop answer to our power dependencies. It’s how you use, not what you use.


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