College Green

Exploring environmental news in Southeast Ohio

Green Culture: Ways to Stop Energy Waste

Posted by collegegreenou on December 4, 2009

By Sierra Legrier
CG Commentary

The issue of everyday electronic devises and their impact on energy consumption has evolved from a small round table discussion into a massive movement for conservation.

Among those responsible for energy waste are the gadgets that we have incorporated into our everyday lives: cell phones, computers and television sets.

According to an article from The Toronto Star there are approximately one billion computers, two billion television sets and three billion cell phones in use worldwide. While the iPod itself has not yet risen to such popularity, the invention of products like the iPhone (which combines a cell phone and iPod) ensure that the numbers of handheld electronic devices are continually on the rise.

As a generation already highly adapted to the use of electronics on a large scale, how can we more efficiently accommodate our insatiable appetites for exciting and trendy gadgets in a more efficient manner?

When approaching energy conservation, perhaps the most influential factor in determining an individual’s course of action is personal interest. Consider that there are two basic levels of energy conservation that can be executed depending on how important someone deems “saving energy” to be. The following is what people can do to lower their energy consumption, based on their level of personal interest.

The Lightweight of Energy Savings

According to the Department of Energy, using rechargeable batteries for products like cordless phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) is not only more cost effective but conserves a small amount of energy as well. Other basic ideas such as turning computers off instead of keeping them on “stand-by” reduces energy waste and can be seen as a reward (in the form of a deduction) on your electric bill.

To maximize savings with a laptop, put the adapter on a power strip that can be turned on or off. Even if the device is turned off, keeping an adapter plugged into a wall socket still consumes energy.

Obviously, leaving the television on when you’re going up the street to the store isn’t going to help you save energy. A lot of people like to leave their television on while they are sleeping. Little considerations like turning it off when you’re not using it can produce surprisingly noticeable changes on your electric bill as well. The average color television uses about 12 kilowatts of power when it’s turned off and even more when connected to DVD players and other electronics. While one kilowatt is billed at about 1.2 cents per unit, in the long run it’s in your best interest to simply turn it off if you’re not using it. (To read more about this, check out the CBC news story “Big TVs are big energy hogs”.)

One of my hardest habits to break in my own personal effort to waste less energy involves my cell phone. I have often been known for taking it off the charger and leaving the charger plugged into the wall. This is one of the easiest ways to waste a good amount of energy; especially if the charger sits in the wall for days without being used.

It is also important to know that the average cell phone takes no more than 30 minutes to go from a completely dead battery to completely full. Leaving your phone on the charger for longer than needed drains the battery and ultimately causes the battery to last a shorter amount of time. So in the end you’re using more energy because you have to charge your cell phone battery more often.

A Real Commitment to a Less Energy-Intensive Lifestyle

Energy Star is an international standard for energy-efficient consumer products. It was first introduced in the U.S. in 1992 and has now been adopted by Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union.

Devices carrying the Energy Star logo include computers, kitchen appliances and other electronic items. These products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy and can be found online and in stores such as Home Depot, Sears and Office Max.

A recent survey done by The Shelton Group, an agency focused on motivating mainstream consumers to make sustainable choices, found that 71 percent of consumers cited saving money as a reason to buy energy-efficient products.

Using solar powered chargers for cell phones and cordless phones is another way to permanently reduce energy consumption and save money while doing so. The most basic solar chargers come with a universal serial bus (USB) plug that goes from the charger into your phone. The solar panel must be facing skyward in order to find your phone signal, then it charges the battery using solar power.

Life changing efforts to conserve energy go beyond using less or buying products that require less. Using computers at public libraries as opposed to owning one is a good way to reduce your personal energy consumption. Consider that many of the items you use on a regular basis that consume large amounts of energy, can be shared or borrowed like those who carpool to reduce pollution.

Whatever your level of interest, energy conservation is a choice that can save your time, your money and ultimately your environment.


4 Responses to “Green Culture: Ways to Stop Energy Waste”

  1. “This is one of the easiest ways to waste a good amount of energy; especially if the charger sits in the wall for days without being used.”

    What qualifies as “good”? This is one of those oft-quoted tips that I believe is actually dangerously misleading and distracting. The amount of air time that this issue gets in the media is completely out of proportion to its scale of impact. Every time we trot it out, we trivialize the need for true energy conservation and we lower the bar as to what we expecting people to do for the planet.

    Thoughts on this? I realize that it was include in the “lightweight” category, but I’d be more inclined to place it with the “negligible”.

    • Sierra Legrier said

      I see your point. However, in writing this piece I felt an obligation to those individuals who may be interested in ways to save energy but only willing to produce minimal effort in doing so. I feel that the media’s coverage of “green issues” in general suggests that there are only two types of individuals on either side of the issue;those extremely passionate about it or those who don’t care at all. I believe that individuals who reside in the middle of the fence are not typically approached about green issues on a level they can relate to. It’s either shoved down their throats or something they know nothing about. Perhaps I could have worded the bit about the cell phone chargers in a less generalized way but I still feel that my original method holds some validity.

  2. Your website looks really good. Being a blog writer myself, I really appreciate the time you took in writing this article. Check out my website if you get a chance, just click on name. (I don’t want to leave a link, it looks too spammy)

  3. For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change impressions, even on important fields, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.

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