Home Energy Use Energy-Leaking

Appliances Are Never Really ‘Off” YOUR house “leaks” electricity:

The cordless drill in the basement. The television set, computer printer, garage-door opener. Even an electric toothbrush wastes energy while it sits doing nothing. The leakage from any one appliance is usually negligible. But lump together all your house’s electronic devices and the waste begins to add up. For example:

• The average American home leaks” an estimated 5 percent of its electricity or about $50 a year.

• Its a huge energy drain nationally. We use an estimated 5 billion watts annually – the output of five standard power plants – to power electronics while they’re turned off.

• TVs and VCRs alone cost Americans $1 billion a year in electric bills while not in use. The energy used creates so much greenhouse gas, it’s as if we put an extra 2 million cars on the road and asked them to drive in circles.

Unfortunately, there’s little consumers can do. When you turn off modern appliances, you’re really not turning them off at all. You’re putting them on standby. “Vampires, I call them,” says Arthur Rosenfeld, senior adviser to the Office of Energy Efficiency at the US Energy Department. “What’s absolutely flabbergasting (is that you’re probably drawing like 50 watts continuously at 3 in the morning” for appliances that are off. Of course, there are reasons electronic appliances stay on standby. Your TV set has to be ready to receive the “on” signal from the remote control. A dishwasher has internal memory timers. Some of these timers and sensors can actually save energy. The problem is that many manufacturers until recently paid no attention to the energy used during standby mode.

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, for example, found a compact audio system that drew 23 watts when it was on and a whopping 20 watts when it was off, A receiver for a satellite system, which drew 17.5 watts when it was on, continued to use 17 watts when it was off. In some cases, the only reason the off button is there “is to give you the illusion of control,” says Steve Greenberg, energy management engineer at the Berkeley, Calif., and lab. You could unplug your appliances when not in use.

But last month the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department launched a more feasible alternative: a voluntary Energy Star program for TVs and VCRs. Under the agreement, manufacturers get to display the federal Energy Star label on TVs that consume no more than 3 watts of power and VCRs that use no more than 4 watts when on standby. So far 12 major manufacturers from around the world have released some 150 products based on the new standard. “By the holiday season of this year; there should be quite a number of qualified products out there,” says Stephan Sylvan, manager of the Energy Star home-electronics program. You can get the list of approved products by calling Energy Star at 1888-STARYES or visiting its Web site at www.epa.gov/eiw~.

Researchers call the program an important first step. “Once industry starts down this path, they’re going to notice that it makes sense for many reasons,” says Alan Meier, staff scientist at Lawrence, Berkeley. Dr. Meier is pushing for a more stringent one-watt standard for all electronic devices on standby. His research suggests that with some thoughtful re-engineering, electronic appliances can keep all their fancy features, while the nation plugs its energy leaks, saves money, and cleans up the environment.

“Phantom loads” like the little lights on a stereo or vcr or tv that stay on when it is off. These loads cost the United States:
-$3 billion per year
-10 power plants
-18 million tons of CO2
-more pollution than 6 million cars
-$1 billion in lost electricty
Among these “phantom loads” the highest consumers are cable boxes,
security systems, dishwashers, vcr’s and tv’s

How To Set Up Recycling At Home

So, you’ve found out where your local recycling centers are and what they accept. You’re now ready to get down to business. Here are some ideas to help get you organized.

Take A Look In The Trash

What’s in your garbage? Can any of these materials be recycled in your community? Before you get into recycling, consider precycling. Begin by changing your buying habits to reduce garbage, or by buying only what can be recycled locally. For example, plastic soda bottles can be recycled, but if there is no place to take them in your area, it’s better to stick with glass or aluminum containers.

Take It Easy

The most important part of setting up a home recycling program is to design it so it lasts. Don’t try to recycle too many things in the beginning. Keep it manageable. It will be easy to continue recycling if you start with a good system.

Get Your Family Involved

Recycling works best if it’s a family effort. Make them feel it’s their program, too. For example, have your kids decorate cardboard boxes for storage bins and ask them to suggest convenient spots to store the bins.

Come Up With A Plan

Decide how often you want to go to a recycling center. This will help you figure out how much storage space you need. For example, if you recycle bottles once a week, you’ll need a lot less space than if you’re taking them in once a month. Also, be realistic about your schedule- don’t expect too much. Try to stick to your plan and after a while, recycling will become a habit.

Storage Tips

Figure out a convenient place to keep your recyclables. Maybe in your garage, under your sink, on the back porch, in the basement, or in a closet or pantry. You don’t have to store all your recyclables in one place. Just try to keep the storage spot for each type of material consistent, so people in your household always know where to put their recyclables.

Limited Space?

A 2-step system may be the answer. You can keep small containers in your home or apartment, and empty them weekly into outside storage. In really tight spaces, you may have to limit your recycling to one or two materials. Don’t let this discourage you- just do what you can. Choosing the right storage containers can make recycling in small areas easier. Also, consider investing in some recycling supplies to help you save space- a can crusher, for example.

Bins, Boxes or Bags?

You’ve probably already got recycling bins if you’re a curbside recycling customer. Otherwise, you need a storage system suited to your space and sense of aesthetics. It can be as simple as a couple of paper bags or as elaborate as a set of plastic stacking cartons. Containers with handles or straps make it easier to carry recyclables, just make sure that they are not too heavy to lift when full. You can get a container on wheels if you don’t feel like lugging bins. Containers should be easily replaceable, like cardboard boxes, or washable. You will also want to make sure that the bins will fit in your car if you have to transport your recyclables to your local recycling center. If you are recycling a number of materials (several kinds of paper, for example), think about investing in a set of stacking containers. Otherwise, you might have boxes all over the house.

Neat Tricks

One of the reasons people often give for not recycling is that it looks messy. What’s the solution? Your recycling storage center may not be a work of art, but there are ways to make it tidy and convenient. Use your imagination; storing recyclables isn’t a whole lot different than storing tools or other supplies. Here are a few container ideas:

o Sturdy cardboard liquor boxes
o Empty milk creates
o Plastic laundry baskets
o Rattan baskets- for the natural look
o Plastic trash cans with lids- if you want to hide recyclables
o Burlap or plastic weave “potato sacks”
o State-of-the-art recycling storage units (like cabinets with different compartments) are available in catalogs or supply shops. Or, just go to a department store and buy some easy-to-install shelves.
o Plastic stacking bins take up a minimum of floor space. Many are specially made for recycling.
o Keep a receptacle at your desk or where you open you mail for paper. A small wicker wastebasket works just fine.
o Limited floor space? Try hanging two or three canvas bags from hooks in a row.www.uoregon.edu

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