Tick Tock Vampire Clock

We all know the digital displays and clocks on your small appliances cost money to run, so how do you shut them off? We laboratory tested microwave ovens to find out. The only tip that we guarantee works on every product is to remove the power source. See our blog post on Top Four Ways to Reduce Vampire Power for some simple ways to do this. But are there other ways?

We found that on some models, unplugging the unit and then plugging it in again and not setting the clock resulted in either a blank screen or flashing dots, on some models a single zero appears and there are other variations. Each number in a digital clock is made up of light segments, so each number uses a different amount of electricity – a “0” has six segments and a “1” has just two. Lighting up each segment requires more power, so the less lights you have on your clock screen, the better. If after you re-set your appliance, it flashes “00:00” continuously or streams “PLEASE SET CLOCK” continuously then you are likely using more power than with the clock alone. Wouldn’t it be great if small appliances could be shipped with the clock off, and you could turn them on if you needed another clock in your kitchen? Our calculations show that if all the microwaves Americans will buy this year come with clocks turned off, a coal fired powered plant can be taken off the grid every 3 years.

What We’re Reading: The Problem with Green Ratings

Fortune magazine published an intriguing article on the trouble with green ratings for products.  You know – those things that indicate a product is “ecofriendly”, “sustainably harvested”, “free range”, “cage free”, or any number of labels you see on products these days.  The holy grail of labels would be an overall picture of a product’s sustainability – something Walmart set out to create in 2009.  Other efforts by Patagonia and apparel manufacturers are also well underway.  So what’s the problem?

Creating a green rating requires extensive knowledge of a product’s inputs, sources, manufacturing processes, and end of life disposal.  That’s information many manufacturers may not know or won’t share.  Thus – many ratings exclude important factors in a product’s footprint in favor of rating what they do know.  Others try to compile all the information companies and other entities release into a single rating.  While that solves the problem of making data easily understandable, it relies on manufacturer released data that can’t easily be verified or company level data that is difficult to apply at the individual product level.

Savenia Labs’ approach is different.  We only use primary data from our world class independent testing labs and then report out exactly what we found.  And we’ve found some amazing things…to be released this fall.  By providing data ‘straight from the lab’, we can help individuals and businesses make more informed decisions  about the products they buy.

Can Energy Efficient Small Appliances Change the World?

Small appliances didn’t get invited to the Saving Energy Party…and we think it’s time that changed.  If the 14 million consumers who will purchase microwave ovens next year switch from the less efficient models they’re currently buying to some of the more efficient models on the market, they will realize considerable savings.  Together those purchases would save enough energy to take a coal-fired power plant off the grid.  According to our calculations and EPA data, they would cut carbon emissions by 2.5 million metric tons of CO2 – equivalent to taking 500,000 cars off the road or depowering 220,000 American homes.  And that’s just with microwaves – generally considered to be a fairly efficient home appliance.  The combined impact on consumer behavior of accurate information across hundreds of product categories would be enormous.

To learn more and win a Savenia Labs rated appliance, visit www.facebook.com/SaveniaLabs.

Savenia Labs launches Vampire Power Contest

Giving Away 1 Lab Tested Appliance per week to Montgomery county residents

To countdown to our upcoming launch Savenia Labs is giving away a free Energy Rated appliance every week.  To win a free microwave, toaster oven, or coffeemaker, like us on Facebook and enter there.  At the end of each week we will announce a winner who can pick up his or her prize at the Bethesda Green office in Montgomery County, MD.

In the first week, win by coming closest to your guess of the percentage difference in energy usage between the most and least energy hungry microwaves among the top 20 sold in the US.

Top Four Ways to Reduce Vampire Power

As temperatures in the DC region edged above 100 degrees and most residents cranked up their air conditioners, many feared the energy bill to come at the end of the month. How can you keep your energy bill down to manageable levels?

One easy way is to limit the amount of energy you waste powering appliances you’re not even using.  True Blood has vampires, but your kitchen has vampire power.  Vampire power is the power that appliances use when in standby mode – think of the clock on your microwave.  As the New York Times has reported, standby power drives the power usage of certain home appliances – for example, DVR set top boxes consume more energy than an entire Energy Star refrigerator.

So what can you do about it?  Here’s our list of the top four things you can do to kill the vampire in your home:

  1. Buy appliances with low standby power energy demand
  2. Put large appliances on smart strips
  3. Put occasionally used appliances on power strips and turn them off when not in use
  4. Install a kill switch in your house

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Would you pay $30 for the clock on your microwave oven?

New ‘vampire power’ research from Savenia Labs helps consumers save energy and money.

New research shows that the most energy hungry microwaves on the market today cost as much as $30 to run when not in use – in large part due to the clock.  These surprising early results were found after testing the top 20 microwave ovens sold in the United States at Savenia Labs, a University of MD Clark School of Engineering partner company in Bethesda, MD. ‘Vampire power’ also known as standby power was shown to consume more than 1/5th of a microwave’s total energy consumption over its lifetime.

When added to other appliances and electronics in your house, vampire power costs can add up to almost $200 per year for Maryland residents.

Savenia Labs recommends users choose a more efficient unit when possible and will be releasing energy ratings in Fall 2011 to help individuals and businesses make informed shopping decisions.  For those who don’t need a new unit now, we offer this advice:

  • Unplug your microwave and when you plug it back in, don’t set the clock.  Testing shows this can cut vampire power use by 50% in some units.
  • Unplug your small appliances when you go on vacation, or when not in use.
  • Use a smart strip to make it easy to power off your small appliances and home electronics when not in use.
For more information “Straight from the Lab”,  money saving tips and a chance to win free appliances, follow Savenia Labs on Facebook, Twitter, or blog posts at www.savenialabs.com.

We’re Here!

After two years of intense research, dozens of meetings with industry experts, thousands of hours of research and development, hundreds of household appliances, and this blog post, Savenia Labs is here.  We began working in 2009 to transform the way individuals and businesses think about choosing products – so they can make better-informed decisions that save energy and money.

For cutting edge lab research and energy savings information before our launch in fall 2011, follow Savenia Labs on FacebookTwitter and read our blog.