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.
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.
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:
- Buy appliances with low standby power energy demand
- Put large appliances on smart strips
- Put occasionally used appliances on power strips and turn them off when not in use
- Install a kill switch in your house
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 Facebook, Twitter and read our blog.