electronics

Score a Touchdown with ENERGY STAR!

By Latosha Thomas

You don’t have to be an NFL Hall of Famer to know that the Super Bowl is more than just a game… It’s an experience (we all know that the commercials are the real champions)! There’s nothing quite like sitting in the stands and watching two teams fight for the glory that comes with winning that game. However, the majority of us will be tuning in from the comfort of our homes. Want to make that Super Bowl experience even better by saving some energy and money while also helping to protect the climate? Then kickoff your Super Bowl with the following tips!

  • More and more people are watching the game online- an average of 528,000 viewers per minute streamed the game last yesuper bowl imagear. [Source: Foxsports.com] Streaming with electronic equipment that has earned the ENERGY STAR uses 25-30% less energy than standard equipment. If possible, avoid streaming through a game console. Streaming through a game console uses 10 times more energy than streaming through a laptop or tablet.
  • Optimize your TV settings- Make sure your TV’s automatic brightness feature—if it has one — is enabled. Reducing the brightness of a TV by employing ambient light control features can reduce power consumption by up to 30 percent. Also, keep in mind that out of all settings on your ENERGY STAR qualified TV, keeping default picture settings guarantees energy savings.
  • Look for ENERGY STAR certified products – Many people buy new TVs or sound equipment in time to host Super Bowl parties. If you’re in the market for some new A/V gear or a TV, look for the little blue label! A home equipped with TVs, set-top boxes, a Blu Ray player and a home-theatre-in-a-box that have earned the ENERGY STAR can save more than $280 over the life of the products.
  • When the game is over, turn off your TV and cable box – Cable boxes can be a particular drain: today’s boxes operate at near full power even when the consumer is neither watching nor recording a show. As a nation, we spend $2 billion each year to power cable boxes that are not being actively used.
  • Use power strips – Plugging devices into more advanced, or ‘smart’ power strips lets you designate “always on” status for products that need to maintain a network connection, like your modem/router or pay TV set-top box. While these other products are on, the strips cut power off from devices like speakers and TVs when they are not in use.

So before you write your list of people to invite and what food to buy, consider taking simple steps to reduce your energy consumption on this night and every night. You’re sure to score big by saving dollars and the environment. What do we say to that? Touchdown!

Latosha Thomas works in communications for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. In her spare time, she enjoys Hitchcock films, anything related to the beach, and debating the impact that strawberry shortcake has made on the world.

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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Making copies the Energy Efficient Way

Imaging

By: Chris Kent

Pop quiz: Does your home/office imaging equipment (printer, copier, scanner, etc.) have the ENERGY STAR label? If it does, consider yourself a very smart shopper. On average, imaging equipment that is ENERGY STAR certified is 40 – 55 percent more efficient than a standard model. From copiers and printers, to fax machines and scanners, imaging equipment accounts for some of the first products to ever earn the ENERGY STAR label. As these products grow in use in homes and offices across the country, EPA’s ENERGY STAR program continues to make strides in making them more energy efficient.

Through the years, EPA has strengthened the energy efficiency requirements so that models meeting the latest requirements will be more energy efficient than ever. Now, by meeting requirements to enter low-power “sleep” modes when inactive, and using efficient power supplies, an ENERGY STAR certified copier saves energy when it is in use AND when it is not.

Looking for ways to cut down your imaging costs even more? Consider purchasing an all-in-one device the next time you are in the market. An all-in-one device (or multifunction device) that meets ENERGY STAR requirements can result in significant energy and paper savings for businesses.  The multifunction device typically performs two or more functions (scan, copy, print, fax) housed within one unit.  By comparison, with single-function devices every piece of networked equipment uses electricity, even when it is not in use.  But by combining these functions into one device, you can save on electricity costs by reducing the number of devices into one integrated unit.  Also, these multifunction devices are where industry is incorporating innovative energy saving technologies, so despite having multiple functions, a multifunction device may actually use less energy than a comparable single function unit.

If your printer/copier/multifunction device is older than 5 years, it is likely that your printer’s energy consumption is about 50% higher than a new machine.  Industry continues to make great strides in improving the energy performance of imaging equipment and ENERGY STAR continues to revise its requirements to recognize these top performers.

Some features that save on energy, paper and ink costs include:

  • Sleep mode and automatic shut off: ENERGY STAR products are required to automatically go into a reduced power state after a specified period of inactivity.  This provides great energy savings.
  • Automatic double-sided printing/duplexing: Automatically setting a printer or multifunction device to print double sided saves up to 50% of your paper usage.  Printer and multifunction devices that can produce images on both sides of the paper by automatically flipping the paper make it easier to produce a double-sided page, which cuts down on paper use.  Paper is the largest energy impact associated with printing, and in most cases, making this change does not cost anything additional.
  • Various quality settings: Many units have more than one quality setting and using a lower quality or draft mode when printing draft or internal documents can save ink.
  • Color vs Monochromatic: Printing in color generally does not use any additional energy than printing in monochromatic. But you can spend more on ink depending on the machine you choose. Units that use one cartridge for all colors tend to waste more ink than units with individual color cartridges. This is because colors are used at different rates, but the cartridge must be replaced once any one color has run out.

When looking to buy a new printer or multifunction device, go the ENERGY STAR Imaging Equipment product finder to find the right product for your needs.   And remember, think before printing.

Chris Kent

About the Author: Chris Kent has worked at EPA for 25 years and for the last 7 years has been the product lead for the ENERGY STAR imaging product development. 

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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Earth Month Tip: Plug electronics into a power strip

Even when turned off, electronic and IT equipment often use a small amount of electricity. U.S. households spend approximately $100 per year to power devices while they are in a low power mode — roughly 8 percent of household electricity costs.

Nationwide, it is estimated that standby power accounts for more than $11 billion in annual U.S. energy costs! Using a power strip for your computer and all peripheral equipment allows you to completely disconnect the power supply from the power source, eliminating standby power consumption and cutting carbon pollution.


More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

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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Earth Month Tip: Recycle used electronics

Electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Donating or recycling used electronics conserves our natural resources, prevents air and water pollution, and reduces carbon pollution associated with manufacturing.

Manufacturers and retailers offer several options to donate or recycle electronics. You can search below to find programs developed by Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge participants.

Learn more about recycling used electronics: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

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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Earth Month Tip: Power down


Did you know U.S. households spend approximately $100 per year to power devices not in use? That’s roughly 8 percent of household electricity costs.

Nationwide, the total electricity consumed by electronics while idle equals the annual output of 12 power plants. Powering down electronics not in use will help save you money and prevent carbon pollution.

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

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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Got Gadgets and Gizmos A-Plenty

By Felicia Chou

I’m waiting for the moment when smart phones become obsolete: when scientists announce I can now share the latest doge meme, what I had for lunch, and embarrassing pictures from my last holiday party straight to the rest of the world without some clunky device. Forget game consoles, computers, tablets, and cameras. Someday, someone’s going to find a way to incorporate all those electronic devices into a miniscule hologram projector that can be embedded into something as small as a ring. 

But while we wait for science to catch up to our wildest technological fantasies, we’ve got to stick with what we’ve got. And what we’ve got are much larger gadgets and gizmos that are made of valuable resources and special materials. We’re talking about all sorts of metals, plastics, and glass, all of which take energy to mine and manufacture.

That’s why I enjoyed helping to put together our new infographic about the secret life of a cell phone. Take a look – it’ll help you make more environmentally-friendly choices to make a difference.

That includes using your electronics to their full potential, like upgrading the software and hardware as needed to get the most bang for your buck. You can also give unwanted electronics a second chance by donating or selling them. And if you’re ready to ecycle, make sure you do it with a third-party certified recycler that has protecting human health and the environment in mind.

Like floppy disks, typewriters, pagers, and virtual pocket pets, our shiny new gadgets will ultimately be replaced by superior things. But that’s ok, as long as the resources and materials we put into our gadgets today can be reused for better things tomorrow. And hopefully by the time we can share the latest video with touchable holograms, wasting resources will also have become obsolete.

About the author: Felicia Chou is a program analyst in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. She is looking forward to the future of technology, sans homicidal robots, zombie-causing viruses, and apocalyptic computer failures.

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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Be Green and Save Green this Holiday Season

blog Samantha Nevels

Samantha Nevels, CEA

By: Samantha Nevels

In a recent study, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)® found that 60 percent of consumers are concerned about their energy bill. The first step in cutting your bill is understanding your energy use. CEA has made this easy through an interactive consumer electronics energy calculator available at GreenerGadgets.org. In just a few easy steps, the calculator will estimate the amount of energy used by your consumer electronics devices based on what electronics you use and how often you use them. The calculator determines your energy cost per month and per year, and compares your energy use to that of the average U.S. household. It also provides some easy tips to save energy!

Here are some tips on how to be green during the holidays: 

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR: Electronics are a popular gift and now you can give a great present that also gives back.  Look for the ENERGY STAR  when shopping for electronics. The trusted blue label indicates energy efficient products that will save you money on your energy bill and help protect the planet.
  • Recycle your old Electronics: Whether you get or give electronics this holiday season, be sure to recycle the old one, allowing the valuable materials inside to be used again in new products and to save natural resources. Find an electronics recycling site near you at GreenerGadgets.org.
  • Read the Fine Print: Check your owners’ manuals to make sure you are taking full advantage of any energy conservation capabilities that your electronics may have.
  • Plug and Unplug: Plug electronic devices like televisions, game consoles, set-top boxes, and even your holiday lights into eco-friendly power strips. Also, unplug those holiday lights during the day!

With these quick and easy tips you’ll be on your way to having more money in your pocket and contributing to a better, more sustainable world. Visit GreenerGadgets.org to learn more about how you can live green, buy green and recycle responsibly.

Samantha Nevels is the coordinator of Policy Communication for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).  CEA is a consumer electronics authority on market research and forecasts, consumer surveys, legislative and regulatory news, engineering standards, training resources and more.  CEA works closely with EPA through the ENERGY STAR program, to promote greater adoption of ENERGY STAR certified consumer electronics.

 

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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Don’t Let That Used Phone Go To Waste

By Lina Younes

The other day, I was looking through the newspaper ads checking out cell phones, computers, TVs and other electronics. Even though I’m not planning to buy anything special right now, I like to see what the market has to offer. The latest developments in mobile technology and electronics are hard to resist, though, even for the most frugal shopper. It’s funny, but when I even hint at getting new cell phones for the family, my children quickly declare that the new features are “must-haves.”

While the new features and available applications might be great, think carefully about whether you really need a new phone. Is your current phone damaged beyond repair, or can you still use it? Have you thought of donating or recycling it?

Electronic products, like cell phones and computers, contain valuable materials like precious metals. By recycling them, you can conserve natural resources and avoid water and air pollution generated during the manufacturing process. Recycling a million cell phones means we can recover 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium. In turn, these recovered materials can be reused to manufacture new products.

Some retailers offer the option to donate or recycle electronics at their stores. You can check out which companies have recycling centers in your area.  Community organizations also work with retailers to host e-cycling events. You’d be surprised how many electronics are recycled at these events.

If you decide that your current cell phone is perfectly fine and you don’t need a new one, we might have a green mobile app available for you. Check out our site for nearly 300 apps that will help you understand and protect the environment. This green technology is just a click away.

 About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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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Back to School: You Need Your Sleep! (And Your Computer Does Too)

Computer

By: Steve Ryan & Jamie Ryan

Steve Ryan: The school year has officially begun and countless parents are admonishing their kids to get some sleep. We have all heard that a well-rested body yields a sharp mind.  But for many young people, it is not so easy to sleep with the pressure of knowing you’re taking a test that could have big implications on your chances of getting into a certain college – or if you’re already in college, for keeping up your GPA.  Well, it may surprise you to learn that there may be other thinking units in your house with this problem.  In fact, your computer may not be getting any sleep at all.  Luckily, with a few simple steps you can make sure that your computer gets all the sleep it needs—even if you do not—and also save energy, money and help protect the environment.

In fact, if you activate the power management features (aka sleep features) on your computer, it can cut your electricity use roughly in half, saving $25–75 per year. Saving energy reduces air pollution and reduces the impacts of climate change, since power plants burn fossil fuels to generate the electricity that keeps your computers, smart phones and other devices running (which in turn creates greenhouse gases and other pollution).

So, how do you do it? Just click here and EPA will show you the way. As my parents used to say, electricity does not grow on trees. Okay, they actually said that money does not grow on trees, but I think you get the point and can see how this simple move can save your family money.

As I sat at home writing this blog post it occurred to me that I should ask an actual student how they feel about putting their computer to sleep. Let’s face it—many times they are the ones leaving it on around the clock. My daughter Jamie graciously agreed to write a few words to help encourage her peers to use their computers more efficiently:

Jamie Ryan: I think we can all agree (as students) that nothing is more irritating than the incessant reminders of the importance of sleep.  Academics often put us in a position where we must choose between sleep and a good grade.  However, it is an important factor in our success.  And when it comes to preventing climate change, saving energy from your computer is also very important. While it can be very easy to keep it on day and night, it deserves sleep just as much as you do. And if giving it a rest is a great way to protect our environment from climate change, I think that it is well worth the effort. This school year I plan to spread the word about power management to the other kids in my school. With all of the time that we spend in front of the computer, this seems like the least we could do to help make a difference in the protection of our environment.

Steve Ryan:  Here is one last tip for all of the moms and dads out there: Once you’ve taken a few moments to change the settings on your home computer, be sure to check if your computer at work is going to sleep.  Even if there are only 50 computers in your office, it could possibly save your organization $3,500 per year in energy costs.  You may have just earned a promotion!  Work for a bigger organization? One major company we work with activated power management features on 75,000 computers and is estimated to be saving $2.5 million a year.  That’s enough energy savings to light over 23,000 homes for a year and reduce greenhouse gas emission by 20,000 tons. But don’t feel like you have to save the whole world. Start at home and just take one simple step that will save you money and help the environment.  Besides, sleep is ohhh so good.  And to all the students out there–best of luck on your exams.

Steve Ryan started working for the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program in 1999.  He currently manages a national campaign to promote power management as well as other information technology energy efficiency initiatives called “The Low Carbon IT Campaign.”  For more information and to get step by step instructions on how to put your computer into low power mode, go tohttp://www.energystar.gov/powermanagement. Jamie Ryan is a senior at Oakton High School in Oakton, VA.

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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Going Off The Grid

By Lina Younes

The other night, I was flipping channels when I stumbled upon a reality show that piqued my interest. It featured a family that had decided to go completely off the grid.

I was intrigued as to why people in the 21st century would purposely choose to live like the early pioneers. No electricity. No running water. Sewing their own clothes or buying second hand clothes at thrift shops, making their own candles and the like. The father basically made a living performing with his family at community events. They had no special equipment – just a guitar and their voices, of course.

Personally, I can’t imagine living without electric power and running water. I’ve seen how living without electricity for several hours during a blackout basically paralyzes a family. I’ve also seen how much adults and children have become too dependent on electronics. In my opinion, many times these gadgets interfere with our ability to simply step back, engage in outdoor activities and enjoy our natural surroundings. On a personal level, the show definitely made me think about this issue. I’m not advocating in any way to turn the clock back to the era of the pioneers. Nonetheless, shouldn’t we be more thoughtful and deliberate when buying things?

At EPA, we have several programs to encourage you to be more mindful of the use of natural resources, saving energy, conserving water and the like. Have you heard about EPA’s Energy Star program? Have you heard of our WaterSense Program that helps you to reduce your water use through water efficient products? And how about the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle?

By going green today, we can all work to have a more sustainable tomorrow. Have you taken a green action today? As always, we would love to hear from you.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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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