Monday, 8 October 2007

Earth-friendly living tip of the week: no standby

Today I'm starting a new, regular In Perspective feature: weekly Earth-friendly living tips. Having already talked about CFL (swirly florescent) light bulbs, this week I will focus on turning off appliances.

When you turn of your television, for example, chances are it is not actually turning off. Because of TV components, it takes a few seconds for the tube to power up. So manufactures figured out a way to make TVs (etc.) turn on faster: standby. When your television is on standby, it is still using up a decent about of energy — without being used. It is best to have all large or major appliances — computers, TVs, etc. — hooked up to a power strip.

What I do every night or once I am finished watching television for a while is turn off that strip in order to conserve energy. I do the same with my computers and other electronic devices it is convenient to unplug. In Europe, more is being done to get rid of standby (many in the UK have the option of using a standby button). However, in America most people don't even know this feature exists; people think that when they turn their TV "Off" it is actually off. As the TerraPass blog says:

[According to a CNET energy usage report for TVs] the average TV...has a standby mode that consumes 6.5% of the electricity used in full-power mode.

6.5% might not sound like very much, but even in the average US household (where the TV is on for a staggering 8 hours a day) the standby mode is responsible for 13% of the TV’s energy consumption.

And an aforelinked BBC article states:
On average a traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) television set uses 100 watts of power when in use and about two watts on standby.

Newer LCD and plasma screens are higher users of energy, with the largest models consuming up to 400 watts when in use and about four watts on standby.

Unplugging things like televisions is just one way to reduce your carbon footprint — and it isn't that hard to flip a switch or unplug a device. Be sure to unplug chargers and other devices not in use; all these things add up, and not just on your electric bill! This week's tip helps both save you money as well as reducing your dent in the environment and, ultimately, our planet's dangerous turn towards global warming.

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