People often get a little iffy when they hear terms like ‘suburban sustainability,’ or ‘ecological footprint.’
“I appreciate the planet and all, but I’ve got enough on my plate without having to take three-credit course on the environment in order to do the right thing.”
This blog— “Save Some Green”— aims to take all the mumbo jumbo out of the equation. Each week, I’ll present a few tips or easy to implement ideas with the dual goal of saving you money on your bills and conserving resources. I’ll try to leave as much science talk out as possible.
The second installment: a look at reducing energy usage and the slaying of vampire energy.
"Vampire energy" is a term given to the slow use of electricity from devices that appear to be off or idling. Although each appliance may be using a small amount of energy, the sum of dozens of these devices over years of use adds up to a considerable waste of money and energy.
Reduce energy usage and beware of vampire energy:
Most techniques are simple: make sure to turn off the lights at night, don’t leave the TV on, etc. This is something that we should all try to keep in mind, especially those who are dreading the monthly energy bills. However, there are some less obvious, but easy ways to save electricity.
First, lower the brightness on your TV, computer screen and phone. This can easily be done by accessing the monitor settings on your devices. If you're unable to navigate your devices' menus successfully to find the setting, be sure to Google "brightness, [name of your device]."
Reducing brightness = saving energy. Also, a blacked out or dark background has the same effect, as the pixels don’t use energy because they are not activated. I use an all-black background for my monitor and phone.
Another concern is vampire energy, which is energy being used by appliances that appear to be switched off. This includes sleeping and even shutdown laptops and computers, and appliances such as blenders, microwaves, and speakers. Just by being plugged in, many microwave models use daily energy equivalent to that used to pop a bag of popcorn.
Also, look for appliances with the EnergyStar logo. This means the product makes good use of its energy, and can be found on everything from TVs to dishwashers.
Finally, be sure to switch off all power strips when leaving for vacation or even an extended day. Many appliances will continue to use energy even when shutoff, so hitting the switch on a power strip ensures that those devices will not be using any energy while you're away.