Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Going Green With Set-Top Boxes...

For years the E.P.A. has run a voluntary program that many of us are familiar with... certifying with an "Energy Star" different products that meet a high energy-efficiency standard. But this voluntary program, while popular, may not be enough, and the federal government may soon weigh in on the issue.

The Energy Department just chimed in that it might start issuing energy conservation requirements for cable boxes, digital recorders like TiVo, and other common household media devices.

A study by the National Resources Defense Council found that in 2010, the 160 million set-top boxes around the country consumed about 27 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, roughly the annual output of nine coal-fired power plants, costing consumers $3 billion. Some boxes can consume more power than a good-size refrigerator...

The boxes eat up so much power because they typically run almost around the clock; as much as two-thirds of their consumption comes during times when they are idle. When asked why, one manufacturing company said nobody ever asked them to use less power.

Is this a common-sense measure to make America more energy efficient, or is it an overreach of regulatory authority by the federal government?

While the pundits argue that question, allow me to simply say that, for individuals looking to greatly reduce their monthly electric bill, one super-easy related measure that almost nobody does is to hook up your cable box, TV, video game console, and other similar media devices to a power outlet strip (instead of directly to the wall outlet). Just by turning off the outlet strip when you leave the house or go to bed for the night, you can easily save $20 - $50 per month just by increasing your efficiency and without sacraficing anything.

It's a no-brainer.


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