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Time Change – Time to Reflect

2009 March 31

About the author: Rob Lawrence joined EPA in 1990 and is Senior Policy Advisor on Energy Issues in the Dallas, TX regional office. As an economist, he works to insure that both supply and demand components are addressed as the Region develops its Clean Energy and Climate Change Strategy.

With the recent change to set clocks forward a couple of weeks ago, now would be a great time to think about your personal power usage.

As you went around changing those clocks, especially the electrically powered ones, did it seem that you had more and more to do this year? One of the biggest uses of electrical power in your home or office is also very discretionary.

If you have a school-age child at home (or you can do it yourself), have them draw a map of your residence, mark every electrical outlet and inventory its use. What is plugged in 24 hours a day? Ask if those lights and appliances are necessary to be “standing by” for use? For example, in my kitchen, the coffee maker and the microwave are next to one another. Both come with clock features and when plugged in are both using power 24 hours a day. Unless you have your coffee maker come on before you wake up, does it need to be plugged in all day? Does anyone need the microwave to come on at certain time or do you really need to have it run for a set number of minutes? Unplug it when not in use.

image of several clocks on mantel

And not all of these energy users have clocks. Why does an electric toothbrush need to be plugged in 24 hours when it is only going to be used a couple of times a day? Consider plugging it in for charging when you get into the shower or during the nightly news and then unplugging it after each use.

Don’t get me started on all of the chargers for personal and work cell phones, Blackberries/PDAs, cameras, and iPod/MP3 players that are plugged into the grid, but never seem to be charging any device. Do you have a television and DVD player in a guest bedroom waiting to be used? Unplug until the guest arrives.

Reduce your electrical power demand. Reduce your home electricity bill. Reduce your personal carbon footprint.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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9 Responses leave one →
  1. Joe Kordzi permalink
    March 31, 2009

    Nice post, Rob. I know in my house, I’m continually chasing after my kids and turning off light switches. I’m thinking about replacing some of the switches with the kind that incorporate a motion detection feature – just like we have in our offices.

  2. Lina-EPA permalink*
    April 1, 2009

    I liked your post. It’s true. We often have too many things plugged 24/7 when we only use them for a minute or two. I’ll start unplugging them. We have energy vampires in our midst and we don’t even know it!

  3. Rob permalink
    April 2, 2009

    You and Stephanie are doing a great job – at home and in the office. I will have to keep you posted on whether I win the electric toothbrush debate.

  4. Rob permalink
    April 2, 2009

    Thanks for the comments. I have found that you have to be on the watch all of the time.

  5. Best coffee makers permalink
    December 22, 2009

    Nice post, Rob. I know in my house, I’m continually chasing after my kids and turning off light switches. I’m thinking about replacing some of the switches with the kind that incorporate a motion detection feature – just like we have in our offices.

  6. Erik permalink
    January 5, 2010

    I hope that some people will get the message about the need to conserve energy. I treat my sonicare toothbrush as if I’m on vacation. It says that the toothbrush can go up to 2 weeks without recharging so that is what I do at home, use it for as long as I can until it runs out.

  7. Kurt Hoefler permalink
    February 15, 2010

    Energy conservation is an important issue. Why not use a coffee system like the (name removed by moderator – please don’t promote products)? They conserve power with an auto-off feature that can be set to reduce power to next-to-nothing even after just a few minutes of inactivity! I have one and I absolutely love it, brews the perfect amount of coffee for me (1 cup and not an entire pot)…more conservation ; )

  8. Jerome permalink
    October 20, 2010

    nowadays we are facing energy shortages, but sad to say we dont even know it. it is really a good thing that some gadgets today have energy saving features. your iPhone may seem like getting less energy when charging but it would certainly help if you maximize the charging time of your phone by not leaving it lying around even when it is already full

  9. Jaywt permalink
    December 20, 2013

    Nice post, I finally decided to implement a motion detection system in my house, so to save money.
    And let me tell you, it’s working very well.
    I found all the components

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