It's all well and good to theorize about using less energy and read about people who are doing it, but what about our own energy use? How many people truly pause and take stock of the energy being used in their own homes? The picture here is not always so rosy, but facing the reality of one's own energy consumption is the first step toward minimizing it. So what better time than now to perform an eco audit of the most energy consuming device's in a geek's home?
Following is a revealing look at several categories of common geek-owned devices, the energy they consume, and how to use less without giving up the gadgets one loves. Let's find out how much juice those plasma TVs, computers, and video game systems are really sucking down!
Video Game Systems
The System: PlayStation 3
The Energy Use: According to Gizmodo, the PS3 sucks down twice as much electricity as the X-Box 360, a whopping 380 watts compared to 160 watts (and a paltry 45 watts for the PS2.) What does this mean for the wallet? Running the PS3 for just 2 hours a day will cost $40 per year in electricity fees. Consider the epic, all-night gaming marathons geeks are so famous for and this cost could easily look more like $100-$150!
The System: X-Box 360
The Energy Use: Geeks who do most of their game play on the X-Box 360 have less reason for their environmental conscience to be bothered, using "only" 160 watts. Still, extended X-Box game play can take a significant bite out of one's finances! TeamXbox.com estimates that the total annual cost of running an X-Box 360 is $20.10 – and bear in mind, hardcore gamers are likely to be using their system for much longer (and paying much more) than that!
The System: Nintendo Wii
The Energy Use: Green geeks can use the Nintendo Wii with pride, as the latest console from Nintendo consumes a meager 16 watts when active. Unfortunately, at least one website has noted that each of these 3 consoles pose environmental risks unrelated to their energy consumption: namely, that each contains harmful chemicals like bromines and phthalates.
The Fix (for all three): Understandably, most wont rush to jettison their favorite game system just because it uses a lot of electricity. Fortunately, this is not necessary! One easy way to reduce the energy consumed by a game system is to turn it off when it is not being used. How many people are in the habit of putting their games on pause for hours at a time to eat, sleep, or run errands? Simply shutting the systems off during these extended periods is enough to save serious energy!
The Computer: iMac (2o in.)
The Energy Use: The super-sleek 20 inch iMac uses surprisingly little energy for its size: only 180 watts. One of the major reasons Apple stated for switching to Intel chips was energy efficiency, and so far it appears to be paying off! One would be hard-pressed to find a bigger and more visually appealing computer system using such little electricity.
The Computer: Apple MacBook Pro
The Energy Use: MacBook users will be delighted to learn that their laptops consume a slim 26-38 watts according to UPenn. Long celebrated for their minimal power use, the MacBook Pro is just the latest in a proud tradition of Apple laptops that leave other brands far, far behind.
The Computer: Dell Inspiron 710m
The Energy Use: Sadly, not all geeks are fortunate enough to own a Mac, and many of those turn to Dell. A downside is that Dell laptops suck much more energy than Macs. For example, the Dell Inspiron 710m consumes 65 watts of electricity, and some of their higher-end laptops guzzle 90 watts or more.
The Fix (for all three): Here, again, few geeks are so passionate about green living that they will sacrifice their choice of computer systems. There are ways to use them more intelligently, though – such as the power-saving options that exist for both laptop and desktop systems. These options, when enabled, generally save energy by using a dimmer screen setting or similar measures. Try to use these whenever possible!
The TV: LG 42PG25 42 inch plasma
The Energy Use: The LG 42PG25 42 inch plasma requires a whopping 429 watts to power the beautiful 42 inch plasma display that makes video games and movies come to life. While this no doubt seems like a lot of power, it is not even the most energy-consuming plasma on this list.
The TV: Samsung PN58A650 58 inch plasma
The Energy Use: The Samsung PN58A650 58 inch plasma will display all kinds of digital content in all their crisp, majestic glory, but it'll take 453 watts of electricity to make it happen. You could run every single computer in this article plus the Nintendo Wii and still not be using as much power as this plasma does alone!
The Fix (for both): Both of these TVs sit atop Plasma TV Buying Guide's "Top 10 Plasma TVs" list, and they're on there for a reason. The best that can be done to reduce their energy consumption is to only leave them on when they are actually being watched. Many of us fall asleep with the TV on, and using a sleep timer is a great way to ensure it does not needlessly run and waste electricity all night while we sleep.