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Friday, October 03, 2008

Greening your home: Power Down

Vampires, phantoms, and bears, oh my!

Okay, so there aren't any bears in this story. But there are vampires, phantoms, idlers, and warts. We're talking about vampire power, phantom loads, idling standby current, and wall warts however.

These terms all basically refer to the same thing: Electronic devices with two sharp, pointy teeth that latch into your wall sockets and suck electricity day and night, whether they're on or off, charging batteries or not. These can include TVs, VCRs, DVD players, answering machines, iPods, cell phones, stereos, laptops, desktops, anything with a remote, anything with a charger, and anything with a clock display. They are everywhere. Lurking.

Top 10 ways to fight vampires:

Unplug your devices. It's as simple as that. Pull TV/computer/stereo/etc. power cords out of the outlet. If they're not in use or if they're totally unneccesary (are you really going to ever use that VCR player again?), unplug.
Reduce your demand. Sure, electronic gizmos are fun. But do you really need 2 TVs for one room? If the answer is yes, then at least follow No. 6's advice!
Use the other off switch. Many devices also have an 'off' switch in the back. For example, most computers come with one 'soft' power switch on the front, which takes it from standby to on. Separately, there is usually a real 'on/off' switch located in the back on the power supply (near where the power cord goes in).
Turn off your power strip. Plug your devices and chargers into a power strip. And when you're not using those devices, turn the strip off.
Remove chargers from the wall when you're not charging. Your cell phone charger, iPod charger, laptop charger, etc. keeps drawing electricity even if your phone/Ipod/laptop/etc isn't charging. So if your phone says "Charge complete" (or worse, isn't even attached to your charger), pull the charger out of the wall.
Buy Energy Star certified appliances if you're in the market for new stuff. Energy Star takes standby power into account, and devices that qualify for certification draw less energy than others in "off" mode. Some of their best electronic items include cordless phones and audio equipment.
Get a cell phone that tells you to unplug it. Nokia will be rolling out new phones with audible alerts that say, "Battery is full, please unplug the charger." This feature will first appear in models 1200, 1208 and 1650 and will most likely debut in Europe.
Use a smart strip for your computer accessories. These work really well when it's not feasible to unplug your devices. Check out the Isole Plug Load Control. This power strip saves energy by monitoring occupancy. The Smart Strip Power Strip monitors power differences between computers and peripherals. This way, when you shut down your computer, the Smart Strip automatically shuts off the accessories. The Mini Power Minder also works by communicating between your computer and your accessory.
Use a Kill-A-Watt device to measure your electronics' power consumption. It can actually be kind of fun (and definitely enlightening) to run around your house and see how much juice each piece of equipment takes. You'll likely be surprised. (If you want something a little more hardcore, try Watts Up?).
Check out the GreenSwitch wireless home energy control system, which let's you cut power to various electronics quite easily. For other whole house devices and monitoring, this interview that might be right up your alley.

Source: Yahoo! Green

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