High-tech gadgetry is no longer the province of the dedicated few. With the revolution in consumer electronics, the geek population now numbers in the millions. The typical American household contains 24 electronic products, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. All of this comes at a cost, however. Household electronics and office equipment are among the fastest-growing sources of energy consumption in the United States, and used electronic products continue to fill landfills across the country. Electronics users can save on energy costs and reduce their environment impact by focusing on energy conservation and recycling.
These energy-saving tips will help to lower your energy bill:
- Turn off equipment when it is not in use. Contrary to popular belief, turning electronic products on and off will not wear them down more quickly. Leaving them on wastes energy and costs you money.
- Watch out for phantom loads. Many electronic devices, such as cable boxes, game consoles and stereos, continue to draw power when they are switched off. Unplug these devices when they are not in use or use a power strip to cut off power to multiple devices.
- Put your computer to sleep. Activate power management features on all computers. These place computers into a low power sleep mode after a period of inactivity. By simply touching the keyboard or mouse, you can resume use in seconds.
- Get smart. Use "smart" power strips that shut off power automatically when a device is not in use.
Purchase ENERGY STAR qualified computers and electronic devices. Depending on the device, ENERGY STAR labeled products use up to 60 percent less energy than standard models.
Getting Rid of Your Gadgets
Electronics contain heavy metals and other hazardous materials. When they reach the end of their useful life, it is important to dispose of them properly. Recycling or donating electronics products extends the life of the materials and keeps them out of the waste stream.
- Recycling. Many countries and municipalities have recycling drop-off centers or hold hazardous waste collections or special events. Public and private organizations have emerged that accept computers and other electronics for recycling. Manufacturers and electronics retailers also accept old products for recycling.
- Donating. Contact local schools or charitable organizations about donating your old computers or electronic devices that are still functional. You can support local educational initiatives by donating electronic equipment to those who cannot afford it. See Electronics Donation and Recycling from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for information about electronics recycling locations in your area.
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