A Zondits Guide to Making Your New Gadget or Device the Most Energy Efficient Gift of the Season
Amanda Gassé for Zondits, December 10, 2015. Image credit: Emily Orpin
The holiday shopping season is in full swing and for many consumers this is the biggest season for buying electronics. While the hottest gifts are in electronics and home entertainment this year, energy-saving insiders know that the best gifts are also good for the environment. ENERGY STAR labels and information make it easy to decide which household devices to buy, but you still need to adjust the settings on your new gadget to make sure you save the most energy possible.
- Video Game Consoles
The advice, “Turn off your gaming console when it’s not in use” may be an obvious tip, but the newest gaming consoles, like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, continuously draw 60 to 150 watts of power when the factory settings are not modified out of the box. For Xbox owners that means turning off the instant-on setting and selecting the energy-saving mode. Adjusting these features can reduce your Xbox’s annual energy use by more than 30%. PlayStation users can adjust their console’s automatic power-down time and not select rest mode when turning off the system. Adjusting these settings could save American consumers $250 million annually in electricity bills.
It’s estimated that more than 34 million televisions were shipped to the US in 2015. TVs are getting bigger, but that doesn’t mean they have to use more electricity: ENERGY STAR labels can help consumers save energy and money. The EPA estimates that if all televisions sold in the US were ENERGY STAR certified the energy cost savings would be more than $500 million each year, preventing 6.4 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. Disabling the quick-start feature on your television can cut standby energy use from up to 30 watts to less than half a watt. Some new TVs include automatic brightness control (ABC), a sensor that measures the light level in the room and will automatically adjust the screen’s brightness level. Turning on the ABC feature can reduce energy waste by almost 50% in a dimly lit room. If you are listening to the radio through your TV, make sure you use the radio screen blanking feature, too.
When you are buying a computer, consider how light and small you can go because small portable tablets use less energy than bigger, bulkier desktops and laptops. The most popular tablets on the market consume roughly 35% less energy annually than a desktop and monitor, and up to ten times less than a laptop. Since computers, printers, and WiFi routers can account for 25% of your electricity bill, it’s important to enable power-management settings to reduce your energy consumption. Customize your computer’s power settings to dim the display after a few minutes of inactivity when it’s running off the battery; when it’s plugged in, put the computer to sleep after 15 minutes. Running your new device in low-power mode not only uses less energy, but it also runs cooler and will extend the life of your gadget.
- Advanced Power Strips
If you want to outsmart even the smartest technology, invest in the newest, most advanced power strips (APS) on the market. An APS will reduce standby power, provide surge protection, and eliminate continuous electricity draw when installed correctly. The strips sense when the TV or computer is turned off and will power down the peripheral plug-ins, like DVD players, monitors, and speakers.
Energy conservation doesn’t end at the checkout counter. Energy-savvy geeks know that some gadgets require a bit more tweaking in order to save the most money and energy. Shop with confidence this year and you’ll stretch your savings a bit further.