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Curbing Energy Use In Appliances That Are Off

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the energy-vampires-always-get-ya-in-the-end dept.

Power 409

KarmaOverDogma writes "The New York Times has an interesting piece on the slow but steady movement to reduce the power drain for appliances that are never truly turned off when they are powered down. In the typical house that's enough to light a 100-watt light bulb 24/7, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, a research arm of the Energy Department. In the United States alone, over $1 billion per year is spent powering devices such as TV's VCR's, Computers and Chargers while they are 'off.' Called 'vampires' and 'wall-warts' by Energy Experts, there has been growing support of their recommendations to adopt industry-wide standards, which would require manufacturers to build appliances with significantly lower consumption when not in use."

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fp! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068382)

fp!

Power lurkers (1)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068390)

I always thought ATX power supplies are quite wasteful.

Let's go back to AT, shall we?

ATX WOL (1)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068559)

I always thought ATX power supplies are quite wasteful. Let's go back to AT, shall we?

I'd rather not, replacing the supply often ment changing the physical plug on the front of the case. ATX and newer designs offer power to the board as long it it's plugged in, for features such as Wake-on-LAN (and modem). For home users, this is a waste, but useful in business networks. Since ATX uses "soft-power" it needs to power the board to a small degree.

Re:Power lurkers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068573)

The ATX has a standby supply that can easily eat a few watts of power.

Let's go back to 60W XT power supplies. ;P

Anyone have any luck with Windows hibernate mode? (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068622)

A PCI motherboard draws about 4 watts of power even when "off", but a phone answering machine draws as much.

I thought it to be a bargain to draw only 4 watts if I can could have instant boot-up, phone answering machine, and Fax, all on my PC. The idea was to enable hibernate and use wake-on-ring of the modem to bring the PC out of hibernate to answer the phone.

I have never, ever gotten hibernate to work properly on a Windows PC, and I have tried different PC's and motherboards. I think I could get wake-on-ring to answer the phone from sleep, which runs about 20 watts, but not from hibernate. In any event, recovery from hibernate does weird things like mess up the mouse driver, or put the video in some strange way, or just freeze the computer on restart.

Anyone out there have better luck with hibernate?

Re:fp! (-1, Troll)

xornor (165117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068396)

sp!

100 watts? (0)

cytoman (792326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068389)

That's a lot of power!! And we are talking about idle appliances, not active ones?! Now, what do they mean by a "typical house"? How many appliances are sucking the power? Let's see...

TV, VCR, DVD
Computer, Modem (Cable/DSL)
Battery chargers
Alarm clocks
Refrigerators
Furnaces

hmm... anyone know what the power breakdown for these items is?

Re:100 watts? (0)

Ced_Ex (789138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068500)

hmm... anyone know what the power breakdown for these items is?

There are stickers either stuck to the back of the appliance, or they are molded into the shell of the appliance that give the energy specs. Look there.

Measuring wall-wart power usage. (5, Informative)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068565)

Appliances of any kind are typically rated in volt-amps, which tells you the current they draw knowing the voltage, but under worst-case conditions without telling you the power factor to know the P (watts) instead of the |S| (volt-amps). Applicance rating plates are meant to tell you how much current draw and hence how big a circuit breaker or fuse you need -- they are not energy ratings.

My own house runs about 45 watts. The furnace alone has a microprocessor in it that takes a good 16 watts. Each GFI (ground fault interrupter circuit breaker that prevents you from getting shocked in wet places like kitchen, bathroom, outdoors) takes up a watt, but you can eliminate that draw by leaving them "popped." I have three motion detector lights -- they save energy, but they take about 2-3 watts each when the lights are off. The garage door opener has a radio receiver that draws about 4. We have a remote control TV that takes 6 watts. Phone answering machines are good for about 4-5 watts. Oh, and a PCI motherboard (it is always "on" when the computer is plugged in) is good for about 4 watts -- I have mine on a "power center", but I can't get my wife to put her computer on a "power center."

I know this info by using either a power meter that the local utility loans out through the public library or by counting turns on the outside electric meter (If you meter says 7.2 on it, it means it is 7.2 watt-hours for every turn. If it takes 10 minutes to make one full turn with everything turned of, it makes 3600/(10X60) turns or 6 turns per hour, or the house is using 6X7.2 or 43.2 watts -- instead of standing outside counting a full turn of the meter, you can turn on a light inside of known wattage to bias the reading higher so the meter turns faster. Also, you have to time a complete turn because there is runnout in the power meter rotor -- it goes faster and slower over different parts of a turn, but it is calibrated to read to better than 1 percent for a complete turn.).

Re:100 watts? (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068568)

Yes but is that how much its really using? I mean my PC powersupply says 400 watts but I'd seriously doubt it actually draws that all of the time, or if it could even survive drawing that much over any significant period of time.

Re:100 watts? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068572)

That doesn't tell you how much they normally use, with the except of some heavily regulated things like fridges and AC wall units.

They tells you how much power they need, at most, ever.

How about you ask the industry to make more power? (1, Insightful)

Trigun (685027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068394)

Have the industries make green power that can be used to mitigate the energy costs, and is easy and affordable for home use. That would give them a bit more incentive to innovate in the solar and wind power markets, and may eventually have an impact on the demand for coal and oil.

Re:How about you ask the industry to make more pow (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068409)

Or maybe some money could be used to make you less stupid.

Re:How about you ask the industry to make more pow (5, Insightful)

bryan8m (863211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068441)

What's the point of making more energy when a good chunk of it will go to waste? Green energy is good, but it's not to be wasted.

lil jon (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068395)

!!!!!!!!!!!11 It ain't crunk enuff!!!

Now this is a great effing idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068397)

But it won't help get the U.S. out of Iraq any sooner. So I guess it's time to plant the weapons of mass destruction?

How low can they go? (3, Insightful)

jacksonai (604950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068398)

Seriously, how low can they make the power consumption without raising the price of the item significantly? It seems to me that with Energy Star, eco friendly should already be in the stuff we buy.

Re:How low can they go? (4, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068416)

Easy solution: why does every *****ing appliance need to tell me what time it is?

Re:How low can they go? (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068457)

Seriously, how low can they make the power consumption without raising the price of the item significantly?

How about "very nearly zero"? Ideally, an "off" device would draw zero watts, but I realize we expect our toys to respond at a moments notice, and that takes some electricity.

My TV, when off, draws 7 watts. That presumeably lets it remember its settings and watch for activity from the remote control. Those two tasks, however, should draw in the low milliwatts, certainly not more than a full watt.

Printers also tend to have a very high idle current draw (and by idle I mean cold and in standby not just "not printing". 20-25W seems common for that - More than the total I use for actively lighting my house under normal conditions (assuming three CF lighbulbs at once, fron 5 to 9 watts each).


Of course, I think we'd do a lot better to worry about the active draw of our appliances. For example, the humble 19" box-fan draws a whopping 150W on high. With only a tiny increase in cost, that can drop by a factor of three, yet no one cares because no one realizes what a massive power sucker they have sitting happily humming in the window.

Re:How low can they go? (1)

xilmaril (573709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068560)

actually, when almost all modern non-flatscreen TVs are turned off, they're basically half-on, so that they will start up faster. something about keeping the tube inside warmed up, I think.

Re:How low can they go? (3, Interesting)

Matthew Bafford (43849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068579)

I thought it was interesting that in England TVs have a true off setting as well. Basically a real switch on the front of the TV that turns it totally off. I got caught quite a few times by turning the TV off by the switch on the front - and then the remotes wouldn't turn it back on.

Totally unlike how American TVs tend to work.

Re:How low can they go? (1)

Barkley44 (919010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068577)

With the price of memory cards, why can't they use them for memory purposes (instead of power), and then turn them so low, just enough the respond, say to the remote conrol on button? Surely a 2MB memory card could hold all the information needed.

Re:How low can they go? (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068581)

I've been playing with X10. Wonder how much power an appliance module draws? For things like printers at least, turning it off completely and allowing it to still respond seems possible.

For a TV though? Even with my littel packard bell IR reciever in the living room to let the server know I'm trying to turn it on, it's just not possible (even allowing for reduced response time). TV's generally don't have a serial port through which they can be turned on, after all.

Re:How low can they go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068517)

Isn't this a problem that's been invented? Switches used to break the circuit. Now we have these soft off/on switches that need to be constantly monitored, using power. Why not go back to the old kind of switch? At least for things that don't "require" a remote control.

Maybe... (2, Funny)

Pao|o (92817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068400)

People should unplug their appliances? Switch the main circuit breakers for a total stop of consumption...

Heck maybe they should buy Macs with better performance per watt. ;)

Re:Maybe... (1)

blueadept1 (844312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068540)

... or Intel Centrino's. Best performance per watt, and no need to switch to a new platform.

Re:Maybe... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068541)

fucking jews

here ye! (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068404)

As we are all gentlemen here, I will take it on your word that your yes is a yes and your OFF is....almost off?

But seriously, let off be off.
At least with a computer, you can flip the power supply and have it *off* off...right?

Re:here ye! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068452)

Sadly... no. My computers built in network card is awake all the time listening for packets. Thats how wake on lan works.

Re:here ye! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068460)

> At least with a computer, you can flip the power supply and have it *off* off...right?

Not with the new ATX power supplies that Al Gore pushed so hard. He claimed that since the average computer user is so stupid that they're not smart enough to turn their own computers and monitors on and off. So now we have monitors that are on all of the time looking for a video signal, and ATX power supplies that supply 5V all of the time. I miss the good old days when monitors and computers had real power switches and you could turn them off. Thanks to Al Gore's campaign, we're no longer allowed that.

Aside: I was at UGA when Al Gore spoke there when he was pushing his book in 1990. I still can't believe he told us, a group of college students, that we weren't smart enough to control a power switch. We were smart enough to boo and call him names. What a damn moron.

Re:here ye! (2, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068585)

I still can't believe he told us, a group of college students, that we weren't smart enough to control a power switch.

Hey, guess what: People aren't smart enough to turn off their equipment.

At one place I worked at a few years back, almost all of the CRTs in the offices would sit drawing > 100W each showing screen savers every night and weekend. I usually would at least swing by the lab on my way out each night and turn off about 1000W worth of monitors left on by others.

Al Gore was exactly right. The 2W drawn by a sleeping monitor would come out as a win if even only 10% of the people left their monitors on. And from what I've seen, far more than 10% don't bother to shut off their monitors.

Re:here ye! (1, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068506)

I use optical mice. When the computer is turned off, the optical mice are still glowing. I need to physically flip the power switch on the back of the computer to turn it off. Simply turning the computer off with the standard switch or using windows to shutdown the computer doesn't mean the thing isn't still eating juice. Also windows takes incredibly slow to shutdown, so I used to use the powerbutton. Somewhere between 95-2000, they changed the power button so it sends a signal to windows before it shuts down instead of brute forcing it. So nowadays, I am a fan of pulling the powercable out of the back of the machine to shut things off. It saves time and power, and sometimes its a way to prevent a virus from fully propogating on your system(yah I stopped a virus manually like this once).

I've also heard that its more efficient to leave your computer on all the time because the amount it costs in wear and tear on your computer is more than the power saved by doing it. Anyone hear of this rumor or know anything about it?

Re:here ye! (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068575)

The wear-and-tear isn't significant if you're only powering on and off once a day each on average.

My current Windows installation is more than a year old, and shutting it down (which isn't often) only takes a minute or two at the most. My laptop Linux installation can take longer than the Windows box (though it seems much faster to get out of KDE with 3.4 installed) to power off.

Powering off a Windows system without a proper shutdown is a recipe for disaster, as Windows saves information back to the Registry during the shutdown sequence. If you're really as picky about power as you claim, you may want to see someone about OCD.

Re:here ye! (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068578)

I'm actually a fan of the "soft" power button; I have mine configured so that if I accidentally press it, it asks me what to do.

That aside, holding down the power button for 5 seconds does actually turn the computer off completely. By that, I mean it bypasses the Windows shutdown process - ie, the computer would use however much power it uses when "switched off".

Re:here ye! (2, Informative)

NCraig (773500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068598)

I've also heard that its more efficient to leave your computer on all the time because the amount it costs in wear and tear on your computer is more than the power saved by doing it. Anyone hear of this rumor or know anything about it?
The argument is that thermal stress from turning the cooled-down PC on wears components out. I've seen many arguments for and against leaving a computer on all the time. This page [pcguide.com] details a few of them.

Interestingly enough, according to the web page it is more important to turn off the monitor than the PC.

It's about time. (1)

T-Keith (782767) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068405)

I've got tons of these around the house, probably more then the average. Chargers are one big problem, electronics are another. The two that annoy me most are the stereo(does a stupid light show unless you push the stop button, then just has a smaller light show) and the cable box(is supposedly off, but still gets "messages" from the cable company).

Re:It's about time. (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068449)

and the cable box(is supposedly off, but still gets "messages" from the cable company).

My cable box, when I had it, ran amazingly hot. It must have been using 50 watts even when it was doing nothing. I never found why. I am glad I don't have it anymore.

Re:It's about time. (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068593)

I have a Moxi DVR from Adelphia that's always on. Always. And there is no low-power mode. It's a miniature computer running Linux, so the software capabiities are available, but not used (presuming the hardware has it). It's been admitted by Moxiguy (one of the employees of Digeo, Moxi's creator, that frequents a couple of boards) that this isn't ideal, and that Digeo knows it, but power-saving isn't coming until at least the 4.0 release (sometime after the sun dies), and maybe not even then.

Re:It's about time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068546)

It could be worse. If my (medium sized) amplifier has been off too long and I turn it on, the lights flicker with the capacitors charge before it "really" turns on. It probably can't draw enough power to charge them constantly when in "stand-by" without me not being about to pay my power bill...

Okay, the light show would be more annoying. Maybe put it into a light switch controlled plug?

Re:It's about time. (1)

HTMLSpinnr (531389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068583)

Part of my home theater syatem includes an active subwoofer (Infinity) which is always in a semi-on state, and a receiver which has an On and "Standby" mode (which really is more accurate than off).

Unfortuantely it sits in a soft off state when it doesn't have any signal to speak of, but that really doesn't have any affect on the power draw. Even in it's soft off state, it will pass and amplify any signal sent to it. Not to mention - the amp heat-sink plate on the back is aways pretty warm, if not mildly hot to the touch. What's worse is that the switched outlets on the receiver are rated at 100 or 120W max, which is just below the rated power draw of the subwoffer. One thought I had would be a relay to turn on the sub, but it doesn't prevent the annoying pop.

Add that to the VCR, TV's (one actually has a capacitor that "sings" mildly when off proving some power draw), cable boxes (DVR's are the worst due to the need to be "on" to record), PC speakers (betchya didn't think of that one), etc. Even our monitors in standby mode use a few watts (though some LCD's are truly 1W).

Because I live in the desert southwest, I've often considered a solar array to defray my power costs over time (plus the geek/green factor), however I feel that most power generated would probably be delivered to these parasites.

Re:It's about time. (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068599)

Right now, I want a bill in Congress that fines stupid-ass companies that have off indicators. It's bad enough we have to put up with on indicators, but ones that say 'I'm off' are about as stupid as they come.

No Rest for the Wicked... (1, Interesting)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068407)

I've read that many VCR's, DVD's, etc. use as much electricity when "off" as they do when in use, with the difference being as little as the amount of electricity used by the electric motors actually used to spin the DVD or move the tape.

That is just lazy design and very wasteful.

Some things like a Tivo of course need to remain "on" to record upcoming shows, but even then should be in a deep sleep until needed. However, that is not the case. They sit there, actively sucking down juice 24/7/365.

Re:No Rest for the Wicked... (4, Interesting)

Spoke (6112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068442)

I used to have a digital cable box which sucked down 30-45w all the time (or something, don't have it anymore, ditched it for normal cable). On/off, didn't make a difference. That thing was always hot.

I've got plenty of wall-worts which suck power, even when nothing is plugged into them, but it's a PITA to unplug them. If the power strips they were plugged into didn't have other electronics plugged in, it'd be easy enough to hit that switch, but who wants a power strip or switch on every single wall-wart they have?

Replacing the power supplies in my PCs with a high efficiency units from Seasonic made a noticable difference. Power draw was reduced 20-30% all the time which is nice.

The charger for my Samsung A670 cell phone is the best, it doesn't use any power when plugged in without the phone. It's so light and small, it doesn't have your typical AC/DC converter in there, not sure how they convert wall power to DC to charge it.

Re:No Rest for the Wicked... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068503)

I've read that many VCR's, DVD's, etc. use as much electricity when "off" as they do when in use, with the difference being as little as the amount of electricity used by the electric motors actually used to spin the DVD or move the tape.

That's not USUALLY the case. The culprits tend to be the ultra-cheap Chinese brands like "Apex", which I've wrestled with many times.

IMHO, the problem is much more than just the power draw... In an enclosed A/V cabinet, those devices will heat up an enclosed space even while off, and the both the extra heat as well as the heavier use of the power supply, will vastly shorten the life-span of the units.

Standby mode to blame? (4, Interesting)

cyclocommuter (762131) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068411)

I have been noticing that more of the latest gadgets like HDTVs, subwoofers, amplifiers, DVD players, etc., now just go into standby mode instead of turning off. I could actually hear the transformer of my subwoofer humming even when it is supposed to be off... The only way to turn it completely off is to unplug the power cord.

Re:Standby mode to blame? (1)

phatslug (878736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068481)

After reading some article in the paper a while ago that 10% of domestic energy use is from appliances in stand by, I now simply switch off the power points each night before going to bed (I'm always careful to not accidently switch off the fridge).

Re:Standby mode to blame? (1)

Furmy (854336) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068591)

each night before going to bed (I'm always careful to not accidently switch off the fridge). Assuming you're not getting up several times through the night to open the fridge, why not unplug it too?
I wonder how well insulated a newer model fridge is... That's worth me buying a little thermometer to test I think!

Meter (2, Insightful)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068412)

Do I smell the need for a review of an in-between appliance and wall power meter? What are some good ones that you've seen/used?

Re:Meter (3, Informative)

max_entropy99 (638262) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068512)

Thinkgeek.com just happens to have such a device: http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/electronic/7657/ [thinkgeek.com]

Re:Meter (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068606)

I went to click on that to check and make sure of what it was, saying, "Yeah, when they actually have them in stock." When I got there, I said, "Son of a bitch, they're in stock!"

Now if I only had the money to actually buy one...

Re:Meter (1)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068523)

One could simply take a meter and install it on a portable stand, add some wires and you're done.

Re:Meter (1)

cecil_turtle (820519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068555)

The Kill-A-Watt [thinkgeek.com] is pretty good.

Stereo (1)

someguy456 (607900) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068413)

I've always had the following question, and this thread seems the perfect place to get a response: Does anyone know how large the difference in power consumption is for a typical, relatively modern, let's say 100 watt stereo when it is turned off (or according to the article, idling), vs when it is turned on under vid/aux mode, but with the volume completely down? (this is assuming no discs are spinning etc).

How about circuit breakers in each room? (2, Interesting)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068415)

How about a switch in each room that turns off all the crap inside of it?

I've audited my home for vampires, and I've since been desoldering leds, and using X10 modules to turn off VCR clocks (I have both a watch and a cellphone - but thanks for the valueadd of a clock on my microwave, coffee maker, vcr, phone, scale, etc.)

 

Re:How about circuit breakers in each room? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068493)

(I have both a watch and a cellphone - but thanks for the valueadd of a clock on my microwave, coffee maker, vcr, phone, scale, etc.)

Your cellphone is a phone. So you shouldn't complain about your phone having a clock, if you say your cellphone already has one. Coffee makers have clocks so they can time when to make coffee (so it's ready first thing when you wake up.) VCRs have clocks so they can tape a show at a certain time.

Re:How about circuit breakers in each room? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068544)

The problem is that there are many devices which have very useful functions while "off". PVRs are one obvious example, but what about IR controlled components. The whole point is to be able to turn them on remotely. Since turning them on requires a detection circuit, that would require a standby mode. Turning off your coffeemaker because yo udon't need the clock is fine, but it won't turn itself on in the morning to make coffee if the outlet is switched off. Also, a higher energy standby mode means a faster startup, and that is generally met with approval by consumers. And then there are annoying devices which have a set power-up routine which prevents use of the item for a reasonably long period of time. My DVD jukebox falls into that category. On powerup, it plays the first disc it finds, either in the mechanism or in the selected slot. After the 20 second ID spin, if it happens to be a Disney movie, it will be 2-6 minutes of PUOP-non-skippable trailers before I can wrest control back. No thanks...I just leave it on.

Your X10 can be controlled remotely, but there is an additional delay, and requires a second remote, or a programmable remote and an IR/RF gateway.

BTW - I've set up a whole house with x10 as a test, and decided that it really wasn't ready for primetime due to the timeit took to turn on/off - a liitle delay, it turn out, really does annoy me. Also, I found that I wasted more energy. How? Well, I'd leave every light in the house on at night, because I knew that when I went to bed I could just hit the "all off" button from my bedside controller. Without the need to go back and turn all the lights off at once, I just left them all on when I left a room. Interesting result, I thought.

$4 a person? (5, Interesting)

readin (838620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068417)

In the United States alone, over $1 billion per year is spent...

The US has about 300 million people. So that's less than $4 per person per year, or 16 bucks for a family of 4. Doesn't seem worth worrying about to me. A family of 4 spends more than that on a single tank of gas for their car.

Re:$4 a person? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068444)

thats the type of arragence I'd expect from an american. There are other countries in the world where $4 is a weeks wages.

Re:$4 a person? (1)

Keeper (56691) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068456)

In this country, $4 barely pays for a combo meal at McDonalds.

Re:$4 a person? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068463)

He probably complains about having to pay for modest increases in fuel prices, I bet.

Re:$4 a person? (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068498)

Yea, and there's probably a huge Cost of Living difference between there and here too.

$4 there probably goes alot further then $4 here.

Re:$4 a person? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068514)

There are other countries in the world where $4 is a weeks wages.

And the people in those countries won't be buying electricity from the US grid at average US prices, so you're just trolling.

Re:$4 a person? (1)

raoul666 (870362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068482)

It's still a billion dollars that could be better spent other places.

Re:$4 a person? (1, Insightful)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068487)

It's not just the individual cost, it's the collective cost on the environment and the over-taxing of an already strained electrical system.

For instance, if every household in America replaced one normal light bulb with a compact flourescent it would have the same environmental impact as taking 1 million cars off the road.

There are plenty of simple actions that in and of themselves don't matter. But when multiplied by the number of people involved can spiral out of control.

If one person goes to the beach and takes a few buckets of sand home for a sandbox, no big deal. If every single person that goes to the beach takes home a few buckets, there wouldn't be beaches.

The problem with every device using 90% more electricity than it should while "off" or in sleep mode is that every device in every household adds up to a LOT of consumption.

Re:$4 a person? (1)

readin (838620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068535)

You also have to look at the price of making the changes. If every device needs to have a more expensive device put in so that it uses less energy, then how much energy are we using for those devices? How much energy are we spending for each company to re-engineer it's product line to use the new devices? How much energy are the simple actions required to save energy taking? How much opportunity-cost are we using worrying about $4 a year? Could those researchers be working on a way to save each person $6 a year? Figure out a way to improve traffic conditions even slightly and you'll save more money than you will on these energy costs.

Re:$4 a person? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068542)

Don't have to change every current device. Given how disposable modern consumer electronics has become, it would be beneficial just to make it a new feature in future products.

Re:$4 a person? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068533)

You speak as if the production of electricity can be infinately increased merely by spending more money on it. There are real world limitations to how much electricity can be produced. The more that needs to be produced, the greater the hidden costs like pollution and nuclear waste bite.

Re:$4 a person? (4, Interesting)

FFFish (7567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068538)

No shit. Over the past couple years I've replaced a furnace that has dropped my natural gas usage by over 40%, moved to CFLs as lightbulbs burn out, installed a smart thermostat, wrapped my hot water tank, and am making plans to renovate the kitchen, replacing an inefficient refridgerator, stove (goin' gas!), and dishwasher.

I'm hardly going to feel bad because my television, stereo, and a few wall-wart power adapters are the equivalent of leaving a lightbulb on. Good god, let's worry about something that really matters, like why this model year's cars use almost as much gas as they got back in 1965. We've gained only a one mile per gallon in efficiency every five years?! WTF?

Re:$4 a person? (4, Informative)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068590)

Ahem.. That is $4 per person per year for the TV and VCR only (two devices).

Microwave, washer, dryer, printer, phone, monitors, lamps, battery chargers (cell phone, laptop, etc.), cradles, etc. also take energy when in standby mode -- or what most people call off.

They list 1000kw per year per household, so at 7 cents per kw that works out to closer to $70 per year. If it adds between $0.50 and $1 to the manufacturing cost to reduce that by 50% it would probably be a net-win for most devices plugged in for most than 6 months.

I don't... (1)

TheStonepedo (885845) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068602)

I don't have a family or a car, you insensitive clod!

Re:$4 a person? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068610)

There are sillier programs. There was one energy program that tried to make ceiling fans more efficient, which is silly when A/C systems are in use that consume a lot more power. Even the example in the article compared a ceiling fan with incandescent bulb fixtures against an A/C, when a simple improvement would be to use bulb-shaped flourescents, which has little to do with the cooling efficiency of a fan.

I'd say that it is something to look into anyways, though it would be nice to be assured that concern was also being laid when the device is being used.

Optimization (1, Interesting)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068613)

Your absolutely right. There are other very simple things, very cheap things - for example, insulative lining around your windows and doors, double paned windows, etc - that will save you so much more. $4 a person is a piss in the lake in comparison. My take? its a marketing scheme to get us to replace our existing appliances.
 
-everphilski-

Surge Protectors (2, Informative)

Rinnt (917105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068418)

What about using surge protectors to make sure your stuff is "off"? That's what I use for my whole network - okay, so it's only two computers. But still, everything runs to a master switch. When stuff is done for the day I hit the kill switch... I would say this cuts the power to the devices since my LAN link lights all go dead.

Re:Surge Protectors (1)

wpiman (739077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068483)

I hope your TIVO or VCR isn't set to record your favorite TV show when you do this.

Re:Surge Protectors (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068588)

Maybe you need this thingy [thinkgeek.com] . When you turn your computer off, it turns off the bottom outlet (for all your peripherals).

Wind power (2, Interesting)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068419)

I'd like someone to invent small wind generation units, that people can mount on their roof, and it would provide power to "vampire devices" so that your TV, VCR, and other remote controlled devices can have power, but not use anything from the power grid until they are turned on.

Solar power would work too, but I suspect wind would be more powerful with a small generator, but anyone is free to correct me if they know better.

Re:Wind power (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068470)

Solar power would work too, but I suspect wind would be more powerful with a small generator,

It depends on where you live. In the middle of the sahara solar power would be the way to go. West coast of Ireland: can't go wrong with wind power. Here in Mebourne a combination of the two works quite well. Communities on French Island, east of here all use solar/wind power systems for their homes.

I have considered building a simple DC supply out of a solar battery charger and a car battery. It should be good enough to supply a few mA for low power devices.

Re:Wind power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068556)

"In the middle of the sahara solar power would be the way to go. West coast of Ireland: can't go wrong with wind power."

And as for Washington, D.C., the only sensible option is nuclear. Now that Russia is our ally, maybe we could even import some classic ol' Soviet reactor technology.

Re:Wind power (1)

Hans Lehmann (571625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068496)

I'd like someone to invent small wind generation units, that people can mount on their roof, and it would provide power to "vampire devices" so that your TV, VCR, and other remote controlled devices can have power, but not use anything from the power grid until they are turned on.

Until the wind stops. Then your VCR starts blinking 12:00

Kill A Watt (4, Interesting)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068420)

I've long since wanted to get a Kill A Watt Meter [google.com] to check the power consumption of the equipment I have. At $35 it's a bargain.

With electricity prices skyrocketing I'm noticing which lights are on the most and replacing them with full spectrum compact flourescents [fullspectr...utions.com] that have a really nice, white light but use about 1/5 the juice.

Re:Kill A Watt (1)

Spoke (6112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068454)

I've got a Kill-A-Watt, it's pretty useful. You'll go around measuring how much various components draw on/off.

My biggest beef with Compact Flourescents is that some of them take a while to warm up and produce usable light. It's most noticable with the ones I've got which have a plastic cover around the light to make it look like a "normal" light bulb (important for the spouse when the bulb is exposed).

I wish I could find some that lit to near full brightness in a few seconds instead of the 15-30 they take to warm up.

Re:Kill A Watt (2, Informative)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068486)

I wish I could find some that lit to near full brightness in a few seconds instead of the 15-30 they take to warm up.

In this case, "you get what you pay for".

I have all CFs bulbs in my house, and have noticed that the $5/3-packs from WallyWorld or Home Depot tend to take a second to start and then a long time to warm up, while the $7-each ones come on at full brightness just as fast as an incandescent.


Personally, I'll deal with the 30-second delay. ;-)

Re:Kill A Watt (1)

syukton (256348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068595)

I highly recommend Longstar bulbs. They turn on instantly and are at full brightness in less than five seconds. I have them all over my house and in the fixtures outside. They stand up pretty well to Seattle temperature fluctuations.
http://www.soslightbulbs.com/shop/customer/home.ph p?cat=1038 [soslightbulbs.com]
I prefer the 30W super daylight spectrum (6400K color temp), myself:
http://www.soslightbulbs.com/shop/customer/product .php?productid=131150&cat=1038&page=2 [soslightbulbs.com]

Also, for your lower-wattage needs, technology has evoloved recently to allow for the manufacturing of spiralized cold-cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL); the lamps used for computer case modding and LCD backlighting. Not only are they instant-on, but they also work with regular dimmer switches. SOS Lightbulbs only carries up to a 30W incandescent equivalent CCFL. (I haven't yet used these, personally)
http://www.soslightbulbs.com/shop/customer/home.ph p?cat=1703 [soslightbulbs.com]

Re:Kill A Watt (1)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068594)

I just use a multimeter to measure the current draw. Easiest way is to plug the device into an extension cord off-set, so only one prong is actually plugged in. Then set your meter to current measurement, and bridge the connection with the two multimeter probes. current x voltage = watts. Saves you $35 if you got a multimeter laying around or can borrow one.

thats it? (3, Insightful)

Joffy (905928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068423)

One 100 watt light bulbs worth? Making everyone use more efficient lights would save a lot more than that. Filament based lights have got to go! My gadget's LEDs are more than enough to light my room!!

power strips (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068425)

All of the power strips I see in Japan have switches next to each socket to turn off the socket for each individual appliance. Looks like a good solution to me.

Re:power strips (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068446)

The Japanese are ahead of us Americans, as usual.

Re:power strips (2, Interesting)

entirety (909951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068608)

Mod Parent down... I lived in Japan for many years... Switches next to sockets are not common throughout Japan. Those who think the Japanese are ahead of the US at everything have never been outside of Tokyo. The people are just as hosed, if not more, as the US folks are. I can tell you that they use a lot of fluorescent lights though. But with all the neon signs perhaps it is a break even.

Don't hate me... Love me for breaking your paradigms... Now, give me one of dem nickels!

Wall Wart Pet Peeve (4, Interesting)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068443)

My pet peeve is the almost unlimited combination of wall wart connectors, polarity, output voltage, output current, etc. Wouldn't it be so much easier if there was some sort of standard wall wart power supply with a standard connector? If you're a gadget geek, you wind up with a rather unwieldy pile of these things in your home and many of them invariably wind up staying plugged in all the time. You can tell they're using energy since they're always a bit warm to the touch, even when the actual device that's supposed to use it isn't even plugged in. Once they standardize the form factor, perhaps they could actually enhance them to the point where quiescent energy usage is much lower.

Re:Wall Wart Pet Peeve (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068520)

or at least put a switch on them to open the primary side of the transformer, truly turn 'em OFF

Re:Wall Wart Pet Peeve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068534)

the best thing about standards is there are so many to choose from, all joking aside - yes the mfg of consumer electronics should all agree on a single standard something 12V DC & positive center (something simple and dependable)

Re:Wall Wart Pet Peeve (2, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068561)

Mine are that they hire illegal aliens, lock them in the stores at night, and don't provide good benefits...oh wait, you said Wall Warts.

Never mind, my mistake.

I'm doing my part (5, Funny)

Rufus88 (748752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068491)

I unplug all my clocks when I'm not using them.

Solar roof shingles offset vampires (2, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068528)

"Energy efficiency experts say the answer lies instead in industry-wide standards, which would require manufacturers to build appliances with low consumption when in standby."

Wouldn't it be nice if the 'Energy experts' spent more time promoting the most obvious source of free power in (and out of) the world; solar power?

Installing just a few solar roof shingles would easily off-set the cost of vampire appliances.
see: http://www.oksolar.com/roof/ [oksolar.com]

Not only do they generate power for your whole household, they end up paying for themselves when you produce a greater current than you are taking in. The energy is sent back to the power line and the energy company pays you.

How about... (1)

toupsie (88295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068536)

Picking a lamp in your house with a 100 watt bulb and never turning it on again. That seems it would be much simpler.

/yes, i know...

Rather off topic (0, Offtopic)

TenLow (812875) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068537)

But I've always hated the term "wall warts"

Things used to be able to be turned off. (4, Insightful)

Phat_Tony (661117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068554)

I remember during the early 90's, when the appliances that wouldn't turn off started to take over. The first appliances I remember that wouldn't turn off were VCRs from the mid 80's- they offered the feature of being impossible to turn off without unplugging them, and always helpfully flashing "12:00" on the display when plugged in. As my parent slowly replaced old appliances with new ones, I remember tech support phone calls from my parents:

"How do I turn it off"
"Press the 'power' button"
"I did that, but there's still a light on."
"That's the 'standby' light."
"The what?"
"That's the light that comes on to tell you that the appliance is off."
"!!???"
"I don't know why."
"You mean one light or another is going to be on the entire time we own this appliance, unless we unplug it?"
"Yep. Get used to it. Everything's that way now."

It used to be that the power button was just a switch that did the same thing as unplugging it, to save you the inconvenience. They've now thoughtfully removed that feature; if you really want it OFF, you have to go back to unplugging it again.

All of this coincided with a preponderance of clocks. I can see two engineers somewhere having a conversation:
"Have you noticed how cheap digital clocks have gotten?"
"Yeah! Let's put them in everything!"

I remember when my neighbor's old analogue kitchen wall clock died, so he said he'd better shop for a new one. I asked him if he really needed another, because there were already digital clocks on his coffee machine, oven, range top, microwave, radio, and even toaster oven. Pretty much everything that used electricity in the kitchen except the refrigerator and mixer had their own LED clock.

They still replaced the wall clock. It's the only one they looked at. It came as news to them that they already had six clocks in their kitchen. They'd never noticed them.

Feature-creep didn't originate with software.

Rights (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14068563)

What about my God-given right as an American to be wasteful?

Translated in human language (4, Funny)

SysKoll (48967) | more than 8 years ago | (#14068592)

Quoteth the NYTese: In the typical house that's enough to light a 100-watt light bulb 24/7

Translated in human language: In the typical house that's 100 W.

By definition, watts are independant of time. Joules are a quantity of energy, and 1 watt = 1 Joule per second.

It's sad to see that the tech section of one of the US's largest newspaper feels the need to dumb down its writing, or maybe just hires incompetent writers. Drool-proof paper cannot be far.

On the plus side, no units in the article were compared to a football field or a the Library of Congress, for once. That's progress, I suppose.

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