Monday, February 22, 2010

Celery

I've heard that if we all start unplugging our cell phone chargers and other similarly low-electrical use devices we could, as a group, make a difference in the world's eco-future. I'm all for energy conservation and reducing my carbon footprint wherever it makes sense, and I like to think I model some strategies that others can use. As far as saving the world by keeping cell phone chargers unplugged, I think it's like trying to gain weight by eating celery.
I used a Kill-A-Watt meter on a bunch of devices and small appliances one weekend - including the cell phone charger, my Sonicare toothbrush charger, and a recharging flashlight charger. None of these things registered any electrical use. I plugged the cell phone charger AND the Sonicare charger into a power strip and put that into the Kill-A-Watt meter and left it on for over 2 hours... still no registered use.
I know that these things use electricity - I mean, they have to be plugged in to operate. But the amount of electricity is so small, changing my behavior in relation to them doesn't seem to be worth the effort. It would be like trying to gain weight by eating celery... lots and lots of celery. I could eat celery every day for weeks and not gain an appreciable amount of weight.
I guess what I'm thinking is, there are bigger fish to fry in the ecological future of the world and trying to get people on board with taking their chargers out of the sockets doesn't seem like it's going to make much of a difference. Some things that can make a pretty big difference with a minimal investment include:
Leave a vehicle parked for a day or two each week by coordinating trips
Hang laundry on a clothesline or use an indoor clothes rack instead of using the dryer
Turn off the coffee maker after it's done brewing and use an insulated carafe
We have a long ways to go in our house to really be more efficient and get our carbon footprint smaller. To be honest, I don't leave the cell phone charger and other things plugged in simply because I don't like all the clutter, not because of the less than zero amount of electricity they use.

2 comments:

Bryan said...

Appliances that have remotes should use more power in standby than chargers. Have you tried the meter on the TV/entertainment setup? We have that stuff on a power strip and shut it off when not using it. If nothing else, we don't need to have all those red lights on in our living room.

Alexander Lee said...

See http://www.pnas.org/content/106/44/18452 and think about your driving habits. Phantom loads matter, but probably more in the homes of those who are least likely to take the steps you describe.