Environment Week o i
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Get current during
By Diane Slawych
AS RECENTLY AS five years ago, the
average plasma TV consumed
about as much electricity as a
refrigerator. But now, thanks in
part to manufacturers who
are responding to consumer
demand for more energy-efficient products, new
models are coming out
that will consume as little
as a 100-watt light bulb.
“TVs overall are becoming
more energy efficient,”
explains Jason Zapp, a Costco
Savvy consumers who want
to save money on utility bills while
helping to protect the environment look
for the Energy Star symbol, which identifies
products as the top high-efficiency perform-
ers in their category. This spring, Costco will
be introducing LED (light-emitting diode),
LCD (liquid crystal display) and plasma tele-
visions with a new and higher Energy Star
standard of 4.0, which will be at least 40 per
cent more efficient than conventional models.
The new televisions are among the many
products Costco will highlight during a week-
long promotion (May 31 to June 6) that coin-
cides with Canadian Environment Week (May
31 to June 5). Other Energy Star–rated products
include washing machines, refrigerators, com-
puters, thermostats, dehumidifiers and lights.
During Environment Week, members
will find instant-rebate coupons offering discounts of between 10 to 30 per cent off a range
of energy-efficient and environmentally
friendly products. Last year, for example, there
were discounts on bicycles, lighting fixtures
and biodegradable cleaning products.
Even if you own few or no Energy Star
products, you have other options to save money
on electricity. One way
is to reduce what is
sometimes referred to as
phantom, or standby,
power. Electrical equip-
ment that is turned off but
remains plugged into an outlet continues to
draw electricity, costing you money.
Think of all the potential “energy vampires” in your home right now, from TVs and
DVD players to computers and audio systems.
One obvious solution is to unplug equipment
when it’s not in use. If that’s too inconvenient
due to myriad cords or hard-to-reach outlets,
a power bar will help.
To find out which electrical products in
your home are using the most electricity, consider buying or renting a power meter (to save
money, share it with friends and split the cost)
that measures consumption in watts.
In addition, representatives from various
provincial utility companies are expected to
set up kiosks at Costco warehouses, where
they will be available to talk to members about
energy efficiency and answer questions.
“I’d say for anything over 1 watt it’s worth
unplugging the device or connecting it to a
switchable power bar,” says Lydia Aouani,
Energy Star account manager for home electronics and office equipment with Natural
Reducing energy vampires
If the meter gives a reading of 5 watts, for
example, you would then multiply by 24 hours
and by 365 days, then divide by 1,000 (to convert from watts to kilowatts) and multiply by
your utility rate, which varies in each province
and territory but, is on average 0.10 cent per
kilowatt-hour. In this case the standby power
totals $4.38 for the year. That may not sound
like much, but, says Aouani, if you add up
all of the devices in your home the total
can be quite a lot. C
Diane Slawych is a Toronto-based
freelance writer, broadcaster and
photographer. Visit her blog at www.
www.scotts.ca • www.miracle-gro.ca
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