How Much Energy Can a Gadget Minimalist Save?
The Ups and Downs of Ditching DevicesPhoto via thelastminute via Flickr CC
The downside of having fewer devices that accomplish what you need is that you're putting all your eggs in one basket. If the phone breaks, you're screwed in a lot of ways beyond not being able to make a call. You also no longer have a camera, a music player, a calendar, and alarm clock...
The upside to this very same issue with a laptop, on the other hand, is if, say, your home is broken in to, the total cost to replace your home entertainment and computer systems is minimized. Of course, we recommend also having an external hard drive to back up all those movies, music, photos, files and so on in case you suddenly find yourself with a crashed or stolen computer. But if that is plugged in just once a week to sync, the energy consumption added to your set-up is minimal.
Additionally, using just two devices for everything means you're using those two devices far more than a gadget gottahavist would be using each device. That's a lot of wear and tear, and you'd likely need to get comfortable with some basic repair skills.
As is the case with everything, the greenest way to go is to be a gadget minimalist. But that's not the comfort level of most people, who want to enjoy fipping on a TV and watching a TIVOed version of their favorite show, rather than hunching over the laptop with whatever they can get on Hulu. So, as with everything, the thing to do is take steps to minimize where you can and reasonably will, using a laptop or highly energy efficient desktop, taking advantage of all the features of your phone rather than buying more gadgets whose energy use add up, and plugging in the Energy Star-rated home entertainment devices as a treat, rather than routine.
How to Tell if You're a Gadget Minimalist or GottahavistIf you lay somewhere in between these extremes, which you likely do, take a moment to assess just how many gadgets you have. Take an hour and gather up anything you have to plug in to use, or charge somehow. Don't forget things like your coffee bean grinder, electric tooth brush, that video camera you use once in a blue moon... Count up anything with a cord or battery, and assess just how much future e-waste and energy use you have in your home. It just might surprise you.
Then, think about how you might want to consolidate your gadgets where you can, and simplify your space. You can always donate the excess devices, or sell them for a little pocket change.
If you want to know what your total watts are, emulate Edward Ho and go crazy with a Kill-a-Watt. Adding up the draw for all your devices will surely be an eye opener. And who knows, you just might find more happiness in unplugging yourself from all those wires.