5 Tips for Saving Energy in the Family Room
Reduce your electricity bills by systematically purging your family room of wasteful energy practices.
1. Select Energy Star-rated electronics
The three biggest energy hogs in the family room are the plasma television, DVR/TiVo box, and digital cable box, says the nonprofit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, which promotes energy efficiency to consumers and government policymakers.
A typical plasma TV (less than 40 inches) consumes 441 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That translates into about $50 (based on 11.3 cents per kilowatt hour). Next up are TiVo devices at $41 annually, followed by digital cable boxes at $27. Both devices are always on because they constantly receive and download data. Opting for an LCD (liquid crystal display) TV, which costs $8 per year to operate, saves you about $42/year.
And if you use an Energy Star-rated digital cable box (ask your provider if any are available for free), you could pay 30% less for energy—an annual savings of about $8.50. Energy Star hasn’t yet published data on swapping out a DVR or TiVo device.
3. Become computer efficient
Your computer eats energy, too. To reduce consumption:
- Turn off monitors when not in use.
- Put your computer in sleep mode when you sleep.
- Use LCD flat screen monitors, rather than CRT monitors.
- Switch from a desktop to a battery-powered laptop, which uses less energy.
5. Replace bulbs with CFLs or LEDs
Replacing an incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) once was merely a good idea; now, it’s the law. The U.S. has banned the sale of incandescent bulbs after 2012, making energy-saving CFLs and LEDs the bulbs of choice—for the time being.
CFLs lower energy costs by up to 75% and burn about 10 times longer than incandescents, although they contain mercury, which makes disposal a bear. In addition, some consumers claim CFLs don’t last as long as claimed.
LEDs, on the other hand, burn almost 50 times longer than incandescents and up to 6 times longer than CFLs, contain no mercury, and produce one-tenth the carbon dioxide emissions that CFLs produce. They also turn on instantly, where CFLs take time to heat up.
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