Six Stealthy Energy Hogs: Are They Lurking in Your Home?
From National Geographic
By Brian Handwerk
Does your smartphone use more energy than a refrigerator? A recent report by the Digital Power Group claimed that an average iPhone uses more juice for battery charging, data use, and wireless connectivity than a medium-sized, ENERGY STAR refrigerator.
But an iPhone’s power requirements vary dramatically depending on how it’s used for video, gaming, and other apps. And estimates for just how much data the average owner uses a month also vary widely, so the controversial study has drawn critics who claim that the comparison is greatly overstated. (See quiz: “What You Don’t Know About Electricity.”)
Whether your mobile phone’s power use rivals your fridge or not, the chances are good that hidden energy hogs in your home are burning more power and money than that refrigerator—sometimes much more. Here are half a dozen surprisingly power-hungry devices that may be feeding your electric bill.
These familiar electronic arrays sit on or near many televisions to connect cable to our entertainment systems. But it’s not just their clocks that run when no one is watching. These devices function much like mini-computers that communicate with remote content sources or record favorite shows while you’re out. That means they require a lot of energy.
“The issue with set-top boxes is that they never power down and they are almost always consuming their full power requirements even when you think you’ve turned it off,” said Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “If you have a DVR on your main TV, and a regular set-top box on a second TV, that could equal the energy use of a new refrigerator.”
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