Plug Your Electricity Leaks
Advanced home electronics use power even when they're turned off, but you can reduce the waste.
Just because you shut down the computer and turned off the television, that doesn't mean these and other electronic devices have stopped consuming electricity.
This type of equipment uses small amounts of electricity to monitor incoming information — TV programs you're taping and phone calls, for example — or respond instantly to remote-control devices.
According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, this leaked electricity, called standby consumption, is equivalent to the output of six to eight power plants. The nationwide cost to supply this energy is $1 billion to $3 billion each year. That comes out to about 5 percent of the average electric bill, or about $65 annually.
There's an environmental cost as well — an additional 12 million tons of carbon is pumped into the atmosphere from the generation of this leaked electricity.
You can't stop leaked electricity, but you can reduce it with Energy Star-rated products, which consume less power or are programmed to sleep when left unused for a certain amount of time. For example, a VCR with an Energy Star rating requires 4 watts of power when switched off compared with 13 watts for a conventional VCR.
To learn more about leaking energy, see the EPA's Home Improvement Toolbox at http://www.epa.gov/hhiptool/.
MORE INFO: U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20585; www.energy.gov; 202-586-5575.