This blog contains some simple tips and advice from two regular guys. We're not accountants, financial advisors, or brokers, so follow, ignore, or discuss our ideas as you see fit.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Energy vampires....biting your wallet?

Posted by Matt

Has everyone heard of the principle of diminishing returns? I'm discovering that personal finance improvements are yet another area where it applies. When people are first starting out financially, they can do a lot of smart things (set a budget, start retirement accounts) that will have a BIG impact on their financial well-being. Over time, however, the returns they get for the time they invest tend to diminish.

Accordingly, today's post is about one of the little things you can do. Because every little bit helps, right? Check out this quick-reference page I found about "energy vampires": http://awesome.goodmagazine.com/transparency/008/trans008vampireenergy.html

It shows you how much money various household electronics devices will cost you for one year in their "standby" modes. The worst item on the list is the plasma TV at $159.76/year (!!) in active standby, which made me glad that I bought an LCD screen ($2.51/year in passive standby). When I used to use my Playstation 2, it always bothered me that the off switch on the front of the box didn't really turn the device off; it only put it in standby mode. The REAL off switch is on the back, but I guess it's worth the $25/year to reach back there. One of our DVD players has a similarly annoying habit. The off switch on the remote only puts the device in standby.

One good suggestion I've read is to plug everything in the entertainment system into a surge protectorthat has its own off switch. That way, you can just hit that one switch to shut everything down at once. I've always wanted to do this, but haven't because the power supply (and huge pile of wires plugged into it) is hidden under our TV stand. Maybe the next time we have an electrician out, I'll ask them to wire the outlet to a wall switch. I could do the same in our home office, if I wasn't so worried about inadvertently losing data.

Does anyone out there use Windows power management features like hibernate or standby? I gave up on them because it was usually faster to reboot than to "wake the machine up". I don't shut my laptop down, either, because I have to pull it out of its stand to get past the BIOS security my company uses. So, I usually go to bed feeling guilty about the energy I'm wasting.

Like I said, some of this stuff is hard. I know that some people struggle with just shutting off the lights they're not using, and here I am asking them to think about the various standby modes of every electronic device they own.

But hey, being a frugalizer just takes a little extra effort sometimes.

UPDATE: Had a great suggestion in one of our reader comments about saving money and energy with "smart strips". Check them out!


Leah in Oregon said...

Great post, Matt. I'm sorry you go to bed feeling guilty about all the energy you're wasting...I'll see what I can do about that. :)

Anonymous said...

Craig told me about your blog yesterday, I'm guessing he also told you the energy conservation stuff is what I do for a living...

With standby appliances we give clients a timer to install between the power stip and the wall. It automatically shuts the power off on a schedule, but it's easy to over ride. A lot of T.V.'s and VCR's will loose stored data like time of day when fully disconnected, so it's not always worth while for electronics. We mostly look at chargers and stereos.

There's a specific power strip for conservation with computers. You just set it to turn off the printer/monitor/speakers ect. when the power to the computer is switched off. There's a switch on the stip that then restores power when you want to use it again.

good luck! jess

Matt said...

Thanks Jess. I wish I had remembered your energy conservation job when I went through the house weatherization process. I could have used your input!
Thanks for the hardware tips; I'm sure our readers would appreciate specific model info if you have any to recommend.

Anonymous said...

here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/Smart-Strip-Autoswitching-Technology-LCG3/dp/B0006PUDQK

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great energy vampire link! Your blog has been a useful source of information for me on several occasions. Keep it up!

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