Thursday, May 10, 2007

Energy Efficiency Awareness, or Do I Really Need a Coffee-Maker That Knows the Time?
I've become energy-efficiency conscious. Not especially helpful, mind you - certainly not engaging in enough responsible lifestyle-changing, just...conscious. And while I'm aware of the story that goes: new appliances are much more energy efficient than the old, I can't help but can that be?? Pay attention to the stuff you have plugged in, and check to see how hard it is to turn them off....really all the way off.

Our new TVs are on all the time, remembering our setup preferences and favorite channels. The microwave, the coffee maker even -- if you want them to use zero energy while they're not actively cooking stuff and making coffee, you have to unplug them. Do you leave the speakers on your computer turned on while your computer is off? The printer? The stereo with the clock, the phone charger, the cable box...they don't use much to be sure, not much at all. My point is we're plugged in *all the time,* so much so that even a concerted effort to turn off the stuff you're not using is not so easy. Give it a try and you'll see.

When I'm asleep the only things I'd like to stay running are the a/c (at a reasonable temp), my alarm clock, my phone charger, my refrigerator (so the milk doesn't go bad, and the milk that's already gone bad doesn't grow legs), and my fire alarm. But the list of things running a slow drip of electricity without my need, or even consent, really, is much longer than that, and longer than you'd think.

It's difficult to be responsible - which is one reason why we could use the help of some government regulations, to hopefully do to cars what they have done for major appliances - earlier this year the new "energy star" specifications came out for appliances, more stringent than in the past. If you're in the market for something big, shell out the few extra bucks to make sure it has the "energy star" rating.

Mostly though it's difficult to keep your eyes on everything, right? I might change the thermostat when I leave, and keep power strips off for things I don't need. But if I make one needless trip in the car, I've pretty well undone all that stuff and more, as far as damage to the environment. And if I use one of those canisters to clean the computer keyboard, I might as well drive cross country and back for all the damage I've done.

How's a well-meaning, but gadget-loving person supposed to keep up?

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