Consumers Can Get Smart with Power Bills
By Bernice Hurst,
Contributing Editor, RetailWire
gradually dawning that there are things individuals can and should do to
reduce our contribution to the disasters of climate change. Some are easier
than others but many are downright shocking. Who knew – or cared – until
recently that turning off the television didn’t actually turn off the electricity
that powers it?
Ditto all those
new gadgets in which we’ve been revelling just as we should have been waking
up to their greater impact. Everything from our telephone chargers (because
cellphones are so much more convenient than landlines) to our games equipment
(because staying in is the new going out) wastes power and, even more shocking,
costs money even when we’re not using them.
dawned more than gradually that we want – and need – to save money.
The New York
as one example a family of four who discovered, on “the night the family
turned off the overhead lights at their home in Maine and began hunting
gadgets that glowed in the dark” just how much power they were using. “It
was amazing to see all these lights blinking,” Peter Troast, the father,
Part of the
problem is that many modern gadgets cannot entirely be turned off; even
when not in use, they draw electricity while they await instructions on
what to do next.
the Troast family’s monthly energy use has been “cut by some 16 percent,
partly by plugging computers and entertainment devices into smart power
strips that turn off when electronics are not in use, cutting power consumption
to zero,” according to the Times.
the situation, by household, could help put the problem into perspective.
The International Energy Agency, for example, says that “worldwide, consumer
electronics now represent 15 percent of household power demand, and that
is expected to triple over the next two decades.” Satisfying the demands
of our favorite gadgets would mean having to build “the equivalent of 560
coal-fired power plants, or 230 nuclear plants.”
standards for appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines were
introduced in the US in 1990, average power consumption has been reduced
by anything from 45 to 70 percent on equivalent models. But flat-panel
televisions can require more power than some refrigerators and attempts
to introduce mandatory limits for electronics have been resisted on grounds
of both cost and restrictions to innovation.
questions: How would you rate the demand for energy-saving devices? Should
they be marketed more for environmental or money saving reasons? How
amenable are Americans to arguments around products such as smart power
strips that initially cost more but save a lot down the road?
commentary] With effective and relatively inexpensive ways to reduce
outgoings of both power and cash increasingly available, perhaps there
is an opportunity for retailers to make friends and profits through a
bit of well-placed marketing and promotion.