Consumer electronics now represent 15% of household power demand, and that statistic is expected to triple over the next two decades, according to the International Energy Agency. Satisfying the energy demand of these gadgets will require building the equivalent of 560 coal-fired power plants or 230 nuclear plants, according to The New York Times. Here’s a quick test: Tonight, turn off the television and all the lights in your living room. Look around. See all those glowing, blinking lights? That’s energy going down the drain, even though everything’s switched off! You’re probably not going to get rid of all your gadgets and gizmos anytime soon, so the next best thing is to purchase devices that manage energy usage more efficiently.
TelevisionsThe best and fastest way to tell how much energy your future TV will use is to look for the Energy Star label (same thing is true for all appliances in your home). Televisions qualified to carry this label use about 40% less energy than standard units. In the EU, consumers can look for the European eco-label to find products that not only have a high energy-efficiency rating, but also that the product has been produced in and can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly fashion.
Video game consolesA recent study conducted by Energy Circle compared the energy use of the three most popular gaming consoles: Xbox 360, Wii and Playstation 3. The winner for least power consumed when in use was the Wii, and given the fact that games for this console typically include simpler graphics, the 20W per hour it uses make sense when compared to the 189W/hr used by the Xbox 360 or the 193.6W/hr used by the PS3. The same standings also emerged when the consoles were compared in the idle position, but it was the standby mode that returned some surprising results.
DVD/Blu-ray playersAside from searching for an Energy Star-rated model, there’s not too much you can do to make your DVD player any greener. Why not save money and use your computer? There are even guides online that will help you connect your computer to your TV. You can also use video game systems to play DVDs, but watch out — they consume far more power playing DVDs than regular DVD players do. If you don’t have a computer that can be used this way, consider upgrading to a Blu-ray player instead. Most models have been shown to be more efficient, and they’ll still play all your traditional-format DVDs (in a slightly crisper resolution to boot!).
If your old electronics still work just fine, you might not want to upgrade to something new right now. An easy way to make existing electronics more efficient is to plug them into power strip. Smart Strip Power Strips sense when your computer or television shuts off, and automatically cuts power to your peripheral devices (monitor, speakers, DVD, etc.) to eliminate their “phantom loads.” Also known as “vampire” energy usage, a phantom load is the energy consumed used when your appliances are turned off but still plugged in. Some power strips can be programmed to know when to turn your devices on automatically — saving you time, money and energy!