Kill-A-Watt: A Campaign to Increase Energy Efficiency on the Columbia University Campus

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Energy Star

We all have power strips in our dorm rooms that are loaded with plugs for various chargers, a computer, and several other electronics that we would never give up. We assume that since these devices are not constantly in use they are not constantly using energy. Electronics don't use energy if they're turned off and not in use, right? WRONG!

40% of all electricity used to power home electronics is used while the electronics are turned off. For the U.S., this is the amount of energy produced by 17 power plants. Clock displays and remote controls use energy even when the electronic device is off. Even cell phone and other battery chargers suck power out of the wall when the phone is not connected. Conventional battery chargers can draw as much as 5 to 20 times more energy than is actually stored in the battery, even when the charger is not charging the product.

Obviously, the most efficient way to use electronics is to only plug them in when they are in use. However, if you're not quite that motivated, you can improve your room's efficiency by choosing energy star products. Energy Star is a government-backed program that helps the public protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. The average America home contains two TVs, a VCR, a DVD player, and 3 telephones. If these electronics were replaced with energy star models, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by over 25 billion pounds. This would have the same effect as taking 3 million cars off the road.

More energy is used to power a non-Energy Star DVD player when it is turned off than when it is being used to play a DVD. Energy Star DVD players use as little as a quarter of the energy. The same holds true for all of the other appliances mentioned above. Replacing old, worn-out electronics with new, Energy Star products makes a big difference.

The next time you buy any electronics, make sure it is Energy Star qualified. A wide range of brands offer Energy Star products. The Energy Star Website has further information, including guides to buying energy efficient devices.

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