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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Death by Gadgets

It seems that for each step forward in our war against over consumption and GHGs we take a step backwards, and our lust for new shinier energy guzzling gadgets is certainly one example.

A report by Paula Owen called The Ampere Strikes Back tells not only of the increased saturation level of household electronic devices in the UK but also the move to less efficient products and the increase in overall energy demand by gadgets

Labour savings devices have grown in popularity in the UK from 1970-2004 many of these not only use a great deal of power in use but also consume power in various ready states(instant on features).
dishwasher 1%-26%
Microwaves <1%-84%
Clothes Dryers <1%-55%

I don't know about you, but the people I know use the micro wave 2-4 minutes a day while but it still draws power for instant-on and clocks 7/24.

Add to this the increased market penetration of Satellite receivers, Digital decoders, game consoles, computers, printers and consumption jumps again.

It's not just new things that are increasing energy demand but also how the technologies change. Owen's report shows that old analogue radios use 2 watts when in use vs 8 watts for newer digital versions and if you use Digital TV to listen to the radio it takes 100 watts.

New Flat Panel televisions not only tend to be larger but for all but the smallest sizes are less efficient than the older Cathode ray models they replaced. This inefficiency married to new larger sets can lead to a three fold increase in power usage. The number of TVs, radios, computers etc per household is also growing.

Another issue is the chronic charger, those who charge up phones and other mobile devices every night regardless of need,or those who leave the charger plugged in at all times even when not attached to a device.

The percentage of single person dwellings also grows as does the per captia consumption caused this failure to share heating, lighting, cooking, entertaining with other people.

The article predicts that "By 2020, the gadgets will account for about 45% of electricity used in UK households,"

While this is UK data I don't see any great disparity in the articles descriptions of lifestyles, level of consumerism or device saturation, and I know for a fact that the EU has standards for stand by power usage where we do not.

A few light bulbs changed here and there to CFLs is not going to make a difference if our trend of gadget proliferation continues.

The Government cannot legislate away energy gluttony or stupidity but a sizable Carbon tax which punishes these behaviours can and will awaken people to the value of conservation and reward those who make the effort.Recommend this Post

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