In our modern world, electronics have become an everyday and very useful part of our lives. However, the increased energy consumption for high tech living does have an environmental impact.
Using electronic devices is not necessarily a bad thing, but we do have a responsibility to use them wisely, look after them to extend their lives, and minimise any power we may waste.
What exactly are we talking about here? Well for simplicity, this articles purpose, and todays challenge, we are talking about desktop computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, printers, chargers, TVs, radios and other similar devices that you may find in your home or around the office.
The challenge sounds simple. Turn off anything you are not using. You will save energy use straight away. However – it is important to understand you own electronic devices before you go running around the house turning everything off.
Many items have a standby mode for power saving such as your TV. Did you know that when in standby mode, they are usually still drawing small amounts of electricity when they are plugged in?
If it is something you don’t use very often, keep it switched off at the plug until you need it. This small task will help save wasted electricity and can extend the lifespan of your item.
Most chargers plugged in at the wall, but not switched off at the socket, still use some electricity. So keep them switched off them on at the wall until you need them. Although it may be a tiny amount of electricity per device, it still adds up. Remember everything we can do, can make a difference.
Equally, do you know how long your mobile phone or tablet actually takes to charge? Many modern devices and chargers are capable of rapid charging. A lot of us plug in overnight and leave own phones on charge until the morning.
If it only takes an hour to charge, consider charging it when you are awake, just for the time it needs rather than the full night. Your charger no longer needs to be plugged in for 10 hours wasting unnecessary energy.
TVs and radios
Do you really need the TV or radio playing constantly in the background? If you are not going to be in the room for a period of time, get into a habit of turning them off. If you have children in the house, this is a great thing to get them involved with too. Starting good habits from a young age.
Good habits for you
Everyone lives differently, think about what you do or don’t use regularly and aim to get into habits that you can stick to that will make the most difference.
A great way to understand what energy is being used by your electronic items is to look at a smart energy meter. Most energy companies provide these for free nowadays, and they show you actual electricity use at any time in your home.
Have a look at your smart energy meter for a baseline, then turn everything off that you can around the house. This will show you the difference you can make on an every day basis.
Many kitchen gadgets are complex electronic devices too. From coffee machines and microwaves to new fangled ovens that pre-heat themselves ready for your dinner. Don’t forget about these items and turn them off at the wall where and when you can.
What NOT to turn off
Each of your devices has an environmental cost to produce in the first place. From energy and emissions to rare materials – some which can, some which can’t be recycled at the end of their lives. For this reason alone, looking after an electronic and extending its lifespan is just as important.
Many items have an important shut down process to go through, please don’t ignore this and just turn them off at the wall! Follow the guidelines for that device.
Equally if there is a shut down process to go through before turning something off at the wall, then you don’t want to be doing this multiple times through the day – for the sake of the items lifespan.
If it is something you are going to be using regularly on and off during the day, then this is where the sleep or standby mode works best. At the end of the day you can then go through the shut down process, saving energy by having the device turned off over night or for a long period of time until you next need it
Certain devices in some homes and in many offices may need to run 24/7 such as servers and back up devices. If you manage these, you will know what can and can’t be turned off. If you have complicated equipment in your household of office that you are not sure of – please check with your relevant IT expert before turning it off!
- Shut down fully and turn off complex devices for any extended period of time they are not needed
- Only charge devices when needed, not automatically every night
- Keep rarely used items turned off at the wall until you need them – including kitchen devices
- Understand your electronics to help look after them and extend their lifespans
- Make the most of smart energy meters
- Talk to your colleagues/boss and see what changes you can make at work too
If you rely on a digital alarm clock, then of course, please don’t turn it off before bed! We don’t fancy being the reason you get in trouble for turning up late to work. But do consider – do you keep a mobile phone on overnight? If so why not swap this out and use as an alarm clock instead, reducing the number of devices you need in the first place.
In an age where electronics have become the norm for many people, we need to be responsible. Use them wisely, look after them and reduce energy use where we can.
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