Going green at home
By Marc Saltzman
KERMIT THE FROG once famously grumbled,
“It’s not easy being green,” but today’s consumer-electronics makers are trying to prove otherwise.
Hundreds of new products—from televisions
and appliances to computers and printers—have
been redesigned and reengineered to sip rather
than gulp power. Not only is this good news for the
environment, by putting less strain on the grid, but
reducing power consumption in the home should
also save you money on your utility bill.
In fact, in order to carry the coveted Energy
Star® logo, manufacturers must meet the new—and
far more rigid—energy-efficiency specifications.
Televisions with this logo are at least
30 percent more energy efficient than
non–Energy Star models. And the latest Energy Star standards are higher
than the first generation of standards.
To give you an idea how much
of a difference this makes, according
to the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), if every television in
the U.S. were Energy Star compliant,
the savings in energy costs would
be about $1 billion annually, while
greenhouse-gas emissions would be
reduced by the equivalent of about 1
Energy Star–compliant computer monitors use
25 to 60 percent less electricity than older models.
If you use Energy Star home office products—such
as desktop computers, monitors and printers—it
could put up to $90 per year back into your pocket.
Another fact: If all computers sold in the U.S. carried the Energy Star label, the country could save
about $2 billion per year in energy costs, according
to the EPA.
Some TV makers are going above and beyond
Energy Star specifications. Sony’s newer Bravia
LCD televisions, for example, have a “zero-watt”
standby power switch, and consume no power
when turned off. These HDTVs also have a smart
presence sensor that detects when you walk away
and puts the television in standby mode after a
Costco offers a variety of
electronics meeting the
latest Energy Star standards in the warehouses
and online at Costco.com.
short period of time (and turns it back on
when you return). It starts by turning
off the picture only (so you can still
hear the television while, say, cooking
dinner in the kitchen) and then turns
the audio off too, unless you program
More in archives
On Costco.com, enter “Connection.”
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Fighting power “vampires”
Products that are turned on are
only part of the problem. If you have
consumer electronics plugged into
electrical sockets—an average of 40
items per household are connected
at any one time—they’re still sucking
electricity, even when not in use.
These products can still consume
25 to 75 percent of their full power
when switched off.
Along with kitchen appliances,
which are the main culprits, common electricity “vampires” include
televisions, cable/satellite boxes,
So, what to do? There are a number of ways
to help fight vampire power, also referred to as
“standby power” or “phantom power.”
; Ensure you’re purchasing consumer
electronics branded with the Energy Star logo, as
they’ve been tested, and verified, to be more energy
efficient. You should see that familiar logo on the
box and product itself.
; Unplug some gadgets when you’re not
using them—especially if you’re going away on
vacation. Some electronics should be kept plugged
in to receive digital updates, including your cable
and satellite TV receivers, and your DVR if you’re
recording shows. But others can be unplugged
without harm: TV, speakers, audio-video receiver,
cellphone charger and computer.
; New power strips are available that can cut
off electricity to some outlets while keeping power
to others. This means you don’t have to crawl
around to unplug certain devices. C
electronics or computers
you purchased at
Costco? E-mail them to:
Or send them to:
The Costco Connection
P.O. Box 34088
Seattle, WA 98124-1088
or fax to (425) 313-6718.
in the subject line. Marc
will answer selected ques-
tions in this column. We
regret that unpublished
questions cannot be
a leading high-tech
to more than three
on radio and TV, and is
the author of 14 books.
AUGUST 2010 ;e Costco Connection 15