If your cell phone charger is left plugged in after charging your phone, does it still use electricity? Does a screen-saver reduce the energy use of your monitor? The answer to both these questions is that these appliances continue to use energy. Most electrical products cannot be switched off completely without unplugging the device or turning it off at a power strip.
Clock radios, computers, cell phone chargers, iPods, video game boxes, remote-controlled televisions, DVD players and kitchen appliances all use stand-by power. These products draw power 24 hours a day, often without the knowledge of the consumer and are referred to as phantom loads. In fact, 5 percent of all residential energy use in the United States is gobbled up when appliances are in the off position according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories.
The Energy Star Program reports that 15 percent of the average homes energy use go to power home electronics. In the average home, 40 percent of the electricity consumed by these appliances is used while the products are turned off. The worst offenders are big-screen televisions that use 30 watts daily when off to maintain clock and channel settings and to stay connected to cable boxes. Nationally, the amount of electricity used to power our home electronics every day in off mode equals the output of 17 generation plants.
So what can a consumer do, short of running around the house unplugging things every night and reprogramming them in the morning? Start by unplugging cell phone chargers and other adapters when not in use. Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use and consider buying a laptop for your next computer upgrade; they use much less energy than desktop computers. Unplugging spare appliances like the extra refrigerator in the garage thats only used during the holidays, or the clock and television in the guest bedroom, will help save on your energy costs. Check out the new energy saving surge protectors with auto switching technology that will turn off several appliances at one time.
Look for Energy Star-rated products and Energy Guide labels when its time to replace old appliances and electronics. Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices and Energy Guide estimates of an appliances energy consumption. This is a great step towards energy conservation. Energy-efficient technology already exists to greatly reduce the amount of power used in these invisible ways. Some newer computers use just 1 watt while off. Energy-efficient televisions use 30 percent less power.
Empire Electric Association members can receive rebates on Energy Star appliances. Energy Star is used as a benchmark for appliance rebates offered by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and EEA. Local retailers in our service territory are apprised of this program and will prompt buyers to come to EEA and request a rebate for a newly purchased Energy Star appliance. Members have 180 days to provide EEA with a receipt of purchase and a yellow Energy Guide showing the Energy Star insignia and the type and model number of the appliance. Qualifying appliances include refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, dishwashers, and electric tank hot water heaters. You will receive a credit on your energy bill for the rebate amount. Ask a member services representative about other available Energy Efficiency Credits at 565-4444.
Bobbe Jones is the Assistant Member Services Manager with Empire Electric, 801 N. Broadway, Cortez. Empire Electric Association is working with the community to save energy and money.