All those cell phones, Kindles, PCs, laptops, televisions, iPods and
everything else that needs to plugged in, charged up and otherwise
re-energized are gobbling up 15 percent of household power. In another
20 years, that figure is expected to triple, necessitating a lot more
A study by the International Energy Agency
reported those results.
All hope was not lost, however - the data was based on current energy
needs of all the gadgets. If newer generations continue to be refined
and made more energy-efficient, that figure could decline. But gadget
statistics were nothing short of eye-popping:
By 2010 there will be over 3.5 billion mobile phones subscribers, 2
billion TVs in use around the world and 1 billion personal computers.
Electronic devices are a growing part of our lives and many of us can
count between 20 and 30 separate items in our homes, from major items
like televisions to a host of small gadgets. The communication and
entertainment benefits these bring are not only going to people in
wealthier nations - in Africa, for example, one in nine people now has
a mobile phone.
One suggestion of the study is to limit standby power - i.e. when
the gadget is turned off - to 1 watt; the IEA in 2007 reported that 20
percent of televisions in the U.S. used more than 2 watts.
The good news is that the electronics industry is well aware of the
so-called energy vampires - devices that suck up energy while not in
use. For example, a group of cellphone makers - LG, Motorola, Nokia,
Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson - have banded together
to offer a star-rated system to rank the energy use of cellphone
chargers so that consumers can make informed decisions. Google prides
itself on having a very low per-search carbon footprint and says it's
continually working to decrease that and to help users
lower their energy consumption.
The main barrier to making devices more energy efficient is that it may cost more to make them that way, according to New Scientist
magazine. The IEA says governments may need to get involved to get such units on the market.