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Jun 182010

Home electronics is a growing portion of household electricity usage.

From Green Right Now Reports

Here’s a useful tip you’ll get a charge out of: Utilizing a one-time change to the computer power management setting on your home computer can save the average residential electric customer more than half of one month’s electric usage each year.

(We’ll pause here to let that sink in.)

Home electronics is a growing portion of each household’s electricity usage, close to 20 percent, according to Scott Pigg, co-principal author of a year-long field study of consumer behavior and usage patterns around consumer electronics in homes across the state of Minnesota. The phantom power suck from home electronics is a problem that has creeped up on us over recent decades: federal data show that in 1980, the average home had only three such electronic gadgets.

“We’re finding that these devices in total can use more electricity in one year than a major appliance, like a refrigerator. The difficulty is that this usage is spread over 30 to 40 devices in the average home. This made it more difficult to identify where the energy savings might lie,” he said.

The Energy Center of Wisconsin completed the study with the funding support of the Minnesota Office of Energy Security and Minnesota Power Company. Past studies have examined either total usage or consumer attitudes, but the Energy Center’s study is the first study in the nation to examine usage data and consumer attitudes together.

“Up until now we didn’t have a good in-depth picture of how these appliances were used and what consumers were willing to turn off,” Ingo Bensch, co-principal author of the study, said in a statement. “By gathering energy data and pointing out usage that occurred when no one was using these devices, nearly every household expressed interest in making an easy change to reduce its energy use,” he said. “This finding points the way for program opportunities for utilities,” he added.

Other opportunities for consumers lie in turning off printers, space heaters, dehumidifiers and little-used entertainment devices. Consumers were more reluctant to unplug cable TV set-top boxes and satellite TV equipment, citing the complexity of these systems. “Reducing energy use when these devices aren’t being used is probably best addressed at the manufacturing level,” added Pigg.

In the study researchers used in-home metering devices to measure power draws and electricity consumption for more than 700 devices in 50 homes, including data on active-mode and standby power. Researchers also interviewed homeowners about their energy awareness and usage habits.