Energy Usage Increases Despite Efficiency Efforts

power strip pow wow photo

"Electronic billabong:" power strip supping up electrons. Photo via Flickr: by Stibbons

Electronic equipment, including cell phones, iPods, PCs, videogames, and plasma TVs have increased demand for residential energy use annually by 3.4 percent since 1990, according to the International Energy Agency. This trend leads the IEA to estimate that personal electrical energy usage in homes should triple by 2030 worldwide, hence more carbon emissions from coal and natural gas plants. It noted this trend is undoing efforts toward energy-efficiency. The energy policy advisor to 28 governments (as well as tipsters for Russia, China and India), IEA recommends raising energy-efficiency standards on consumer devices. With energy improvements in home appliances, such as Energy Star refrigerators and washing machines, that usage has lowered. Findings also show that heating and air-conditioning has fallen.

One Billion PCs, Two Billion TVs, Three Billion cellphones.
But the study states that energy use has risen sharply over the past 10 years with the use of electronic gadgets. There are over two billion television sets in the world, close to one billion personal computers by the end of the year, and over half the global population subscribes to a mobile telephone service. These figures are on the rise.

The agency urged that consumers need to make smarter choices and change habits to conserve more energy. In analyzing the data, the report suggests that categories for "functions," such as surfing the internet, need to be considered, in addition to improvements in products. The report recommended that people's lifestyles — as well as government policies and manufacturers' efficiency standards - require dramatic change for energy-efficiency to improve significantly to impact global warming.

Of course, there are other energy-suckers they make recommendations about, too, like oil. But these hidden power-guzzlers start at home. Alternative energy is a solution to greenhouse gas emissions, so perhaps a rise in electricity costs would make a difference.

More on greener electronics:
Are Green Gadgets Really Greener This Year At CES?
How Much Energy Can a Gadget Minimalist Save?
California Utilities Form Alliance for Greener Gadgets
Greener Gadgets 2009: Saul Griffith on Climate Change and the Amount of Renewable Energy to Prevent It
How to Go Green: Gadgets

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