November 22, 2005 12:01 PM PST

Energy hogs in your living room

(continued from previous page)

In addition to higher electricity bills, energy-wasting electronics have a direct impact on the environment. After all, the average home is responsible for twice as much greenhouse gas as the average car, according to the EPA. In the U.S., power plants are responsible for 63 percent of all sulfur dioxide emissions and nearly 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, the agency said.

What you can do
Tips from experts on how to curb consumer electronics' appetite for kilowatts

Look for the Energy Star label
This shows that a product meets the EPA's energy-efficiency criteria. The agency rates dozens of kinds of consumer electronics, including TVs, DVD players, stereo systems and home office equipment.

Ditch the screensavers
Screensavers require continuous processing power and prevent computers from resting in energy-saving "sleep" mode. That can add $50 to $100 to an electricity bill each year, if a PC is left on, the NRDC estimates.

Monitor improvements mean images can't burn into screens, so there's no need to use screensavers any more, the group says.

Unplug power adapters while not in use
Electricity continues to be eaten up by power adapters and chargers even when they're not recharging your cell phone, digital camera or other gadget.

Write your member of Congress
Let legislators know that you'd like to buy more energy-efficient electronics and urge quick action by the EPA and the Department of Energy on new specs for TVs and other devices.

Sources: EPA, the Natural Resources Defense Council and iSuppli

"There's no smoke coming out of your TV when you turn it on," Durrett said. "So you have to think in terms of how that energy is made and how it gets to your home."

Energy Star push
Through its voluntary Energy Star labeling program, the EPA is hoping to encourage high-tech manufacturers to improve the energy efficiency of high-tech devices. On the power adapter front, the agency introduced Energy Star specifications earlier this year and has been working with cell phone manufacturers to implement them.

Samsung will be the first to sell handsets with Energy Star-qualified power adapters, EPA's Durrett said. Consumers should to see them arrive within the next few months, the agency said.

If every power adapter were 90 percent efficient, which the EPA said is possible, consumers could collectively save more than 5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The energy savings would prevent more than 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emission, equivalent to the average emissions of 700,000 cars, the agency said.

The EPA has also updated its Energy Star specification for computer monitors to address energy consumption while the machines are on. The previous specification deals mainly with sleep and off modes. Monitors sporting the new Energy Star label should start appearing early next year.

The agency is also working on an Energy Star specification for TVs that deals with the power consumed when the machines are on. The current TV specification only takes into account the power used in off-mode, which represents just 10 percent of TV energy use, according to NRDC data.

But the TV on-mode specification won't be ready for at least another two years, Durrett said. One big hurdle is coming up with a measurement method that manufacturers can agree on. The U.S. Department of Energy hasn't updated its method in nearly 30 years, so right now, it only applies to black-and-while TVs.

The NRDC is pressing for quicker action. "The time to act is now, before the sales of big-screen TVs take off due to price reductions," NRDC's Horowitz said. "If progress is not made soon, we will be stuck with a generation of energy-hogging big-screen TVs in people's homes for the next 10 years or so."

The group estimates that reducing active-mode energy consumption in TVs by 25 percent could save the U.S. more than 10 billion kilowatt hours a year, enough energy to power the state of Delaware for a year.

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Our Congress
And a Republican comittee last month had recommended getting
rid entirely of the Energy Star program.
Posted by durango4 (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Our Congress
That sounds like the republicans. What's the point in saving energy or showing people that they can save energy with one device or another.
Posted by pmm6 (11 comments )
Link Flag
Stop spreading lies
And propaganda. Congress nor the republicans have done any such thing.
Posted by ballssalty (219 comments )
Link Flag
Congress please help me
Congress, I don't know how to select products, so you'll have to help me...

If energy efficiency was ever an issue for anyone, makers would start competing over it and advertising it. Instead, nobody cares if your radio consumes 30W of power of 6W since a kilo (yep 1000) watt hour costs 8 cents.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
STBs can be made which consume low power.
As a manufacturer of Set Top Boxes in Europe, my company, TVonics strives to keep the power consumption of our Digital TV recievers to be as low as possible. So worst case the power consumption of the box and the plug-top PSU (wall-wart) combined is 6.2watts. Standby is less still. This is in stark contrast to early deployed boxes in the UK which consumed 20+ watts. Worse still the early boxes were hopelessly slow compared to the fast responsive nature of later generation boxes.

How do you get the message across to the public though when they make their purchase decision. Their usual criteria is which box is the cheapest? Yes we could have procured a cheaper PSU adapter but it would have consumed another 1 or 2 watts. So another 50 cents to a dollar cost up for lower power could add another $5 at retail when you do the percentage mark-ups and sales tax etc.

The problem is when you add up the millions of boxes deployed you are talking 100's of megawatts when you account for multiple boxes in the home as well which is essential for Analog TV switch off.

So in the end every watt counts! It can be done and we try to do it without adding significant cost to the product. Also note that boxes which consume less power, run cooler and therefore tend to last longer which also helps the environment in terms of energy consumption in manufacture etc etc...

In the end it has to be a concerted effort between governments, retailers and manufacturers to get the message across to the public that they do have the choice if they want it to consume less power.

Paul Fellows, CEO TVonics Limited
Posted by paulfellows (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Consumer advocate organisations
Consumer advocate organisations, which in Europe at least are prolific, test a lot of equipment. Rarely I see total cost of ownership calculations shown.

The only notable exception here in The Netherlands are cars and washing machines: they do have energy consumption class rating information attached to the product in showrooms and stores.

I doubt if that does influence decisions in case of a car, which is more about image than anything else, but I'm sure that in case of a washing machine energy consumption does play a mayor part in the consumer's mind when making a purchase decision.

I think that labeling the energy consumption for any electrical device would certainly help to make consumers at least aware of the after-sales cost they have to pay.

And if I ever will buy a setop box, I'll look for your products ;-)
Posted by tennapel (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
US has energy consumption labels
On appliances. Washing machines, air conditioners, refrigerators, dryers, etc.
Posted by ballssalty (219 comments )
Link Flag
Energy Hogs
It should be pointed out that in many circumstances the use of electricity is almost 100% efficient. The wasted energy or electricity mentioned in your article fvrom the power pacts becomes heat, heat that is in your home. During the colder months this heat can be considered usefull, although as electric heat it is in general more expensive than gas or oil, but this is changing also.
Posted by TQUIN45 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I just got a Tivo clone from my cable TV provider. It not only
doesn't seem to have a sleep function but even it's hard drive runs
all the time, which is inexcusable.

I've measured it at 21 watts when it's not doing anything.
Posted by Fazookus (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Turn it off with a switch
If you can't afford $14* per year in power costs, then turn it off when you're not using it.

*Based on 8 cents per kW/H, which is $0.00008 per watt hour * 24 hours * 366 days * 20 watts
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
Hidden Costs
Your calculation is selfish because there are hidden costs, the real cost involved in produce the energy is not fair for our planet and the pollution levels keep raising year after year. It's not about how much we pay for energy. We still burn oil to produce energy. Not all is lost because the solar energy is starting to take off and it could be the cleanest energy available right now.
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Since our president, his cronies and family are so firmly entrenched in the oil industry, there is no republican incentive to save energy.
Posted by bobsaccount (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Conspiracy
Since ALL politicians are entrenched in big business, including oil,
there's no incentive for any politician to advocate saving energy
except in an election year so they can say "See? I'm environmentally
Posted by nightveil (133 comments )
Link Flag
Maybe if Clinton kept his pants on he could have fixed it
Maybe if Clinton kept his pants on he could have fixed it.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Link Flag
No way dude. My computer doesn't run on oil. As a matter of fact, it doesn't run on steam, wood, coal, water, sunlight, starlight, or reenergizing ecto-plasmatic rays either. It runs on electricity.
Posted by Mentor397 (73 comments )
Link Flag
Who cares?
Who cares? Am I going to look at the power consumption of a TV before I buy it? No way. If you can't afford the electricity, don't buy it. If you think buying it will destroy all life on planet earth then go live in a cave somewhere.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
proud republican
I am a proud republican and I will burn anything that I can afford (oil,electricity). God gave the republicans the right to be energy inefficient. Shame on you treehugger to write an article like this.
Posted by ramarnath (18 comments )
Link Flag
How could you say that!!!!????
Outrage! I found your comment thoughtless. How could you say such a horrid thing? Think of all the animals and trees who have lifes of there own. Humans aren't better then any of them. You are blinded by you greed. I'm a public school student in 6th grade who studies energy renewable ways to get it. All people care about is money. It's so thick! And guess what? It's the next generation who has to deal with your stupidity. People like me! And animals too. There people who just happen not to be human. Trees? They give us the very air we breath! I am sorry if I have offened you in anyway, but I am outraged beyond words. I am a proud Democrat.
Posted by foxhound718 (3 comments )
Link Flag
why us?
Yeah. What a great idea! Let's just waste all the energy we can and let the next generation deal with our stupity! Fat Chance!!!! I can't belive it!!! I'm 12, so in 40 years there will be nothing left for us. You people are such energy hogs! I barely ever watch TV anyway! I read. What an amazing concept!
Posted by foxhound718 (3 comments )
Link Flag
No big deal.
Most "high-tech" stuff, does not require a lot of electricity. Sure, TV's take up the most. But charging your mp3 player, or charging your laptop does not require a lot. I believe all laptops are under 100W, a typical desktop is 400W. Electricity is cheap enough to not care, for now at least.
It's things like your dishwasher or oven that consume a lot.
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Posted by Roman12 (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Peak Oil!!! Everyone should CARE!!!
Life as we no it will change if we keep saying who cares. Peak Oil will mandate our attention in the way of rations. We will be knocked back to the stone age.
Posted by clintbrot (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yep. That's exatly what will happen if we're not careful. I'm 12. So guess what happens? The next generation has to deal with the stupity of energy wasters. Not a happy thought.
Posted by foxhound718 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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