Posts Tagged appliances

Vampire Appliances

Posted by on Saturday, 22 January, 2011

Many appliances, including microwaves, televisions, computers, and gaming consoles, use power when they are turned off. The Department of Energy claims that vampire appliance costs contribute about 4 percent of the average home’s electricity bill. Phantom load is another term for this type of power use. Standby lights, which show that the system is not turned on, drain power, and battery chargers can use energy even after the battery is fully charged. According to the Energy Savers Blog, most devices that can be turned on with a remote control also drain power because of the remote control system.

To prevent a vampire appliance from using power, it needs to be completely disconnected from all power lines. With a charger, even if the charger itself is not connected to the laptop, phone, or other device that it recharges, the charger will still drain power. Power strips, which are commonly used with computers and electronics because they protect several devices from a power surge, can disconnect all connected devices at once. The power strip itself can still drain power if it has activator lights, a battery pack, or other features. Remember that disconnecting the devices with the power strip removes their remote activation features, such as scheduled operation to record a television show, according to Energy Star.

Lawrence Berkeley Labs measured the power consumption of many types of appliances when they are turned off, but still in standby mode. Audio equipment, including receivers and mini systems, used the most power. A laptop computer uses much more power than a desktop computer or other types of computer equipment, because of its battery charger. TVs use more standby power than other appliances, and rear projection TVs use the most standby power of any device that the lab studied.

Because some types of appliances need to use standby power, another solution is to reduce the amount of power that the appliances use. A typical goal is 1 watt or less standby power for each appliance, according to the National Institutes of Health. Newer appliances are often designed to use less standby power, although a customer may need to ask around to find the amount of standby power usage. It’s also possible to use a meter to measure an individual appliance’s power usage in the home, including standby power usage.

The International Climate REDI Project

Posted by on Tuesday, 4 January, 2011

The Climate Renewables and Efficiency Development Initiative is an international agreement, led by the Department of Energy, that helps residents of low income countries switch to more energy efficient appliances. According to the Department of Energy, the United States will be paying $85 billion of the project costs from 2011-2015, and other developed countries will cover the remaining $265 billion in costs.

This project includes several new programs. One program is the Solar and LED energy program. LED bulbs are much more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and they are even more energy efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs. The purpose of this project is to provide the bulbs, along with solar generators, to rural residents and other people who don’t have access to the electric grid.

The Super Efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment program is also a new program that Climate REDI establishes. The program focuses on market incentives. California and other states periodically offer tax credits for energy efficient appliances, immediate purchase rebates, and provide subsidies so that sources of clean energy can compete with other power sources such as coal and oil. According to Humboldt State University, California advisers are already familiar with establishing standards for these incentive programs because of the previous and current initiatives in the state.

The third new Climate REDI program is the Clean Energy Information Platform. This is a database that allows scientists in developing countries to easily exchange information with advisers in the developed countries that are funding the project. Each technologically advanced country picks different areas of expertise, so Australia and Britain consult on carbon capture and Germany and Spain give advice about solar power.

Another program is the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program. $250 billion out of the total $350 billion of project funds will support this program, which is an existing program that the World Bank manages, according to Although Climate REDI offers $250 million to finance this project, the World Bank also uses funds from other sources to support renewable energy projects in developing countries.

Digital Electrical Meters

Posted by on Tuesday, 1 June, 2010

It’s important to track your energy usage if you’re interested in reducing it. A target such as 20% less electricity is much easier to obtain when you’re aware of how much power appliances in your home use. Even smaller appliances such as toasters and ovens can use more power than you expect, especially if you have already purchased energy efficient larger appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators.

One method of monitoring your energy usage is suggested by a blog post at the Energy Savers Blog at the US Department of Energy. A digital electrical meter can track the power usage for an individual electrical appliance and give you the precise information on how much electricity it uses. This is very useful if you are using older electrical appliances that do not clearly state how much power they use, newer Energy Star appliances may state their power usage on a sticker pasted on the appliance itself.

The blog post is about getting a digital electrical meter and installing it. The poster wanted to borrow an electrical meter from the library, but of course the library wants to lend out books and maybe videos, CDs, and DVDs, it doesn’t want to lend out home appliances. That’s actually an interesting concept that would be an innovative community project. There’s no reason a city like Ventura can’t loan out digital electrical meters, or even other energy efficient tools such as lawnmowers and chainsaws. This isn’t something most cities have done in the past, but libraries were not common around the nation either until Andrew Carnegie decided to support education around the United States by providing grants for US cities to set up libraries.

A web page at my alma mater, Humboldt State University, explains how digital electrical meters operate. Basically, it’s a device that plugs into an appliance. Instead of directly connecting an appliance to a wall socket, you plug the appliance’s power cord into the digital electrical meter, and then you plug the electrical meter itself into the wall socket. Be sure that you have extra power cords on hand in case the meter doesn’t come with extra cords when you buy it. Humboldt reminds you to take care of these power meters, using a soft cloth to clean the screen, instead of an abrasive paper towel. I’d recommend purchasing one rather than renting it as they sell for about $200, and you will want to keep one around the house to test out new appliances you purchase. As far as I know there isn’t a government rebate specifically for digital electrical meters like there is for energy efficient refrigerators, air conditioners, and washing machines, but there might be a program in the future.