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Electronics

Although electronic device like TVs, DVD players, and computers consumes a relatively small percentage of the energy to operate a typical Minnesota household, it may be possible to cut electricity use for home electronics in half - with not much effort.

Home entertainment equipment 

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Computers - Adjusting the power management settings for your computer can save up to 200 kWh of electricity a year. When upgrading, purchase ENERGY STAR computers, monitors, and peripherals.

Televisions, CD and DVD players, cable boxes, stereo receivers, and video gaming systems can use a lot of electricity, even when off. Some older TVs, for example, can use up to 40% of the full “on” power when turned off.

The cheapest way to reduce electricity that is being used by these devices is to unplug them when you don’t need them. No additional purchases or special tools are required—just a willingness to be vigilant. Controlling them with a convenient outlet strip can make it easier; a “smart” outlet strip will turn off peripherals (DVD players, game systems) when a primary device (TV) is turned off. “Surge-suppressor” outlet strips will provide a margin of protection for electronic equipment. Because some older electronics may require re-programming, you may need to be selective about what you turn off.

Computers and peripherals

A recent study conducted by the Energy Center of Wisconsin indicated that up to 80% of the computers in the study did not have sleep/hibernate enabled. Many people mistakenly believed their computers were in sleep mode because their monitors were asleep; in fact, the settings had not been enabled on the computer. Because many people leave their computers on all the time, enabling these features can save up to 300 kWh of electricity every year. Additionally, many related devices (such as printers) are left on, even though they may be used only a few minutes each day.

A simple trip to your control panel settings for power management will allow you to configure your system to reduce electricity use. Computers that are asleep will still receive updates and be available for other activities (like video streaming to your TV). Peripherals (printers, modems, scanners, etc.) can be controlled by turning off, unplugging, or using a smart outlet strip.

Chargers

Most of us have numerous devices that have rechargeable batteries: cell phones, flashlights, power tools, etc. Even though the amount of power used by each of these may seem insignificant, they often will continue to draw small amounts of electricity, even when fully charged and the device is removed. 

Fortunately, there is an easy way to curb this wasted electricity: charging stations. An inexpensive timer can be set to operate for an hour or two at night. Plug an outlet strip into the timer and the devices to be charged into the outlet strip. If located conveniently (kitchen or entryway for cell phones, basement for tools) it becomes easy to keep devices fully charged with minimal wasted electricity.