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Energy tip #10: remove wall warts and slay electricity vampires

recharger.gifAre you plugged in? If you have ever left rechargers or unused appliances plugged into the electrical outlet, you may be in for a bit of a shock. The U.S. Department of Energy tells us that not only do appliances continue to draw electricity while the products are turned off, but in the average home nearly 75% of all electricty used to power electronics is consumed by products that are switched off.

VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances all use energy while not in use. You may have noticed how a cell phone recharger can be warm even when not attached to a phone. The best way to prevent unnecessary energy expenditures is to do a clean sweep of your home. Here at the office, we’ve gotten into the routine of unplugging our water cooler at night. The process is a bit of a hassle at first, but hassle quickly turns into painless habit.

(Bonus question for engineers: can anyone explain why products can’t be designed to prevent this sort of passive energy use? Is it simply laziness on the part of the manufacturers, or is there a real design constraint at work?)

The good folks over at Ideal Bite have previously tackled this issue and suggest the following:

  • Use power strips to turn off TVs and stereos. You’ll save the energy equivalent of a 100-watt light bulb that is always on.
  • Unplug chargers (think cell phones and iPods) when not in use. Only 5% of the power drawn by a cell phone charger is used to charge the phone. The other 95% is wasted when it is left plugged into the wall.

Let’s runs the sums:

Rough equivalent: 100 W light bulb @ 8760 hrs/year
Electricity: $.10/kWh
Total energy cost: $87.60
Cost of power strip: $4.00
Total energy savings: $83.60
Total CO2 savings: 1217 lbs.

We took a week off to launch our new Expedia partnership as well as Home and Dorm TerraPasses. The extra time allowed us to garner some additional votes on the duct fix (Tip #9). 22 people have said ‘Yes’ to getting their home’s ducts inspected. If 50% go ahead with the project, we can expect about 41,800 lbs of CO2 being reduced, or about 6.3 tons of waste recycled instead of landfilled.

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