Wasted energy

Device to monitore enegy consumption

Last week I went out and purchased an energy meter from a nearby store. I got the idea after having seen a presentation by a salesman from Nokia at the Green Week 2008 in Brussels. He pointed out that plugged-in chargers for Nokia mobile phones use energy even when they are not charging, i.e. when the battery is full or when the phone is disconnected from the charger. In these cases, a current still runs through the transformer and generates heat. There are millions of these chargers out there and together they use as much power as one hundred thousand average households, but they only generate heath for no purpose. What a waste!

But it is not only Nokia’s chargers that have this property. Most devices with a transformer use some power when they are turned off but still connected to a wall outlet. There are millions of these devices all over the world, so the power consumed and wasted by idle devices must have some measurable impact on total energy consumption. But how much?

I decided to use my new energy meter to check all my computers, refrigerators, TVs, cameras etc. at home to find out how much energy actually was used and how much was wasted. Here are some results from my sanity check:

ON OFF Total
Device W/h h/Day W/h h/Day kW/Year
TV-set 120 4,00 37 20,00 445,30
Laser printer 500 0,50 16 23,50 228,49
External hard disk 16 5,00 6 19,00 70,81
Computer 170 5,00 32 19,00 532,17
Total kW/Year 605.90 670.87 1276,77

Of the total annual amount of about 1277 kW/year, about half is energy consumption from devices that are NOT in use. Although equipment not in use consumes much less energy per hour than equipment actually used, they are running all night and the better part of the day. Unplugging them from the wall when not used, saves about 15% of my annual energy bill.

Well, that’s not a lot. So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is this: Of the total energy flow in the US, about 58% is actually wasted. About half of the energy produced using oil, gas and other resources is wasted in numerous ways and not used for any useful purposes at all. It is a global phenomenon and it reveals an amazing and in fact completely shocking, deficiency in the technology we use.

True, at first I could not believe that this happened in my own home, every day, year after year ….. but slowly I got the message.

I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me yet. The way we waste energy is simply outrageous. But, don’t give up, go out and buy an energy meter for yourself, or, better still, check the files of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the USA and the statistics of the US Department of Energy. They have known it for some time!

About Jan-Henrik Johansson 18 Articles
I am a philosopher and my interest is in the many diversified cultures of mankind. In my writing I try to understand what insights mankind needs to learn in order to control climate change, to create a new paradigm for global decision making and to benefit from the opportunities of the Digital Age. I hope this site will offer insights to share. Thanks and have a very good day on our common and only planet!

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