If youre looking to reduce energy use at home, you might rightly suspect that the television is a big power hog, with its big bright screen. You would be right, but a new report identifies a little energy hog that comes with none of the bells and whistles of a flat screen: your modem, wireless router and other equipment used to keep you wired to provide your home Internet access.
This equipment uses as much electricity as a new 32-inch flat screen TV, according to Cutting Energy and Costs to Connect to the Internet, a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The amount of energy consumed is twice that of the 14-inch laptop you might use to send and receive data.
The big problem with these devices? They are always on.
Reducing demand from standby powerwhen electronics remain on even when not in useis a recurrent theme when advocacy groups identify energy efficiency strategies or the government sets new standards for appliance efficiency.
It might save the average consumer no more than a few dollars, but revamping this equipment so that it doesnt draw power when not in use could shave one-third off the $1 billion we collectively spend annually to power 88 million high-speed Internet subscriptions. Another way to look at it: It requires the equivalent of three large power plants to keep these devices powered, and if coal is used to make that electricity, the pollution generated is equivalent to over 1 million vehicles.
For consumers, there is now no good way to make a smart purchase and select a model that is energy efficient. That should change in time, as the federal government rolls out Energy Star standards for routers and other connectivity devices. (NRDC is concerned that the governments draft standards arent as aggressive as they ought to be, and that all routers should be made to the highest industry standards currently available.)
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