Being energy-wise

Being energy-wise

Being energy-wise

Taking care of how you maintain your gadgets at home can go a long way in conserving energy, writes G Nagaraj

Latest technological developments in appliances and electronics have changed our energy consumption habits. One may not realise it but the energy use of electronic equipments at home often goes unnoticed. A significant percentage of electricity used in our homes can be attributed to the buzz of electronic devices, often consumed by home appliances,
entertainment systems and home office equipment. Reports suggest that the domestic sector accounts for 30% of the total energy consumption in the country. Small energy users, including portable devices with battery chargers, also end up contributing a significant share, not because they use a lot of energy individually, but because of their sheer numbers.

While in the US, the Department of Energy works with the Environmental Protection Agency on Energy Star, a programme designed to help consumers lower their energy costs by using energy-efficient products, in India, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), established by the Ministry of Power, has set up a comparative star labelling system for indoor appliances. This provides information on energy usage to consumers, enabling them to reduce energy bills.

This comparative star labelling system is used on indoor appliances like tubular fluorescent lamps, refrigerators (frost-free and direct cool), and air conditioners, along with appliances like electric geysers etc. More the number of stars, more is the energy efficiency of the appliance. There is tremendous scope to conserve energy by adopting simple measures and practical solutions.

Here are a few simple things you can do to make your living spaces more energy efficient:

Home office

* Opting for energy-efficient office equipment can result in significant energy savings. Depending on their usage, Energy Star labelled computers use 30-65% less energy than those without this label.

* Spend more time in low-power mode to save energy while helping the equipment run cooler and last longer.

* It’s a common misconception that screen savers reduce a computer monitor’s energy usage. Instead, switch the system to an auto sleep mode or simply turn it off.

* Turn the monitor off if a computer needs to be left on. The monitor alone uses more than half the system’s energy.
Home electronics

* Unplug appliances when not in use. Several appliances continue to draw a small amount of power even when they are switched off.

* Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or when chargers are not in use.

* Use rechargeable batteries for products such as digital cameras and cordless phones. Studies suggest that rechargeable batteries can turn out to be far more cost-effective as compared to disposable batteries.

* Do not leave the power on when TV or audio systems are not in use, as idle
operation could lead to an energy loss of 10 watts per device.

* Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in a refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and force the compressor to work harder.

* Use a timer facility on your washing machine to save energy.

Portable devices

* Shut down unused or dormant applications in your laptops or smartphones to prolong the battery life.

* When your smartphone’s Wifi or Bluetooth is switched on, it is continuously emitting signals to confirm connectivity, thereby seriously depleting the device’s battery. If you are not using Wifi or Bluetooth on your device, always keep it switched off.

* Reduce the screen brightness on your laptops or smartphones from its default setting to reduce battery consumption.

* Use the battery on your laptop — constantly using the laptop while on charge can reduce the device’s charging ability.

* Use power saving mode whenever possible in your smartphones and laptops — the new age devices come with an option of a ‘power saving mode’ that helps balance performance and energy consumption, especially when it is running on battery power.

* Simply switch off your laptop, tablet or smartphone when you don't need them at all — in aircrafts or during important meetings, and save energy.

(The author is business head, consumer technology, UL South Asia)

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