5 Ways to Cut the Energy Footprint of Your Guilty Pleasures

Home electronics, especially entertainment, represent an oft-overlooked source of CO2 pollution (and waste) in most American homes. 

The reasons your entertainment products pollute are complex–and often counterintuitive. Many products have actually become more efficient over time. LED TVs, for example, outperform the same sized LCD and plasma screens. But we now have more TVs per household than ever.

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At the same time, homeowners now operate many other “screen” devices, such as tablets, phones and gaming consoles. Then there’s the aspect of how we access the entertainment we consume: Physical media, such as DVDs, CDs and vinyl records, all have their ecological drawbacks. But digital streaming also produces CO2 pollution. 

More devices and more time using them means we keep returning to square one with regard to the overall energy used in our homes. Should we give up our tablets? Turn off our TVs to save energy? Maybe, but we all know that’s a non-starter for most people. So perhaps we can start by limiting where, when and how we use screen devices to times when we’re in the room and actively engaged. 

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Image courtesy Samsung


5 Digital Pollution-Prevention Tips

  1. Exorcise phantom energy. A lot of devices use energy even when they’re off, although some allow you to reduce how much energy is wasted by putting them into a deeper “sleep” mode. To find out how much standby energy is costing you, plug in a smart plug, or borrow a Kill-a-Watt device from your local library. Once you identify the worst passive power guzzlers, put these devices on a timer, or turn them off manually at night with a power strip. 
  2. Don’t leave computers on. The idea that computers use more power booting up than being left on is a myth. Turn off your laptop when you’re not using it.
  3. Download music once. When you stream music online, you create a rippling demand for energy at data centers, servers and more. This creates CO2 pollution. Instead of re-streaming your favorite songs, load them all onto your phone or tablet, and play them back from there. Put a data cap on family phones to make sure everyone plays by the same limits.
  4. Purchase ENERGY STAR devices. This refers to TVs, projectors, cable modems, routers, and so on. 
  5. Upgrade, don’t discard. Replacing electronics creates mountains of hard-to-process waste. Instead, see if you can replace a lamp, processor or other part. Some products are “designed for dissassembly,” increasing their lifespan and repairability.
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Product Spotlight: Sonos Local Library Storage App

As an alternative to the environmentally costly effects of directly streaming music over the Internet, Sonos offers an APP that can turn your phone or home computer into a music server. Store your favorite music on your phone or computer, then play it when you’re offline, on your Sonos speakers.

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