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Electronic Vampire Piggies, Everywhere

Fri, 02/22/2008 - 12:28 -- MrGreen

June 15, 2007 – To people working in power supply design, they’re vampires, but the New York Times calls them hogs. Either way, our homes are filled with them, electronic products that suck energy even when they’re apparently just sitting there, doing nothing.

In an article called Putting Energy Hogs in the Home on a Strict Low-Power Diet, Times writer Larry Magid talks about discovering exactly how much energy the greedy vampires … hogs … vampire hogs? … whatever … are gobbling and attempting to do something about it.

My TiVo digital video recorder was sucking down about 30 watts when it was not playing or recording a show. A Comcast digital cable set-top box made by Motorola that I tested was drawing about 40 watts. My DVD player was drawing 26 watts while idle, and my audio system — which I rarely turned off — was using 47 watts. This was in addition to the numerous power adapters and chargers, each drawing 1 or 2 watts, not to mention several other devices sipping energy to keep clocks running or to be ready to turn on at the push of a button.

He also quotes the Lawrence Berkeley National lab study that points out that 40 percent of the power consumed by electronic devices in California homes happens on standby.

He then tells us about his attempts to save energy in his house and makes recommendations: buy laptops computers instead of desktops, use LCD screens, not CRTs, that sort of thing.

But as Mr. Green knows, along with electronics engineers everywhere, we can do better than that. We can design and build electronic products that are inherently efficient, whether in active or standby mode, starting with the power supplies that feed them. We don’t have to quiet or starve the electronic vampire hogs, we just get rid of them. We design them out of the house and out of our lives.