Yes we can! Eco bit 4: don’t stand by

People who measure these things estimate that using the stand by features on our TVs, DVDs, mobiles, microsaves, and an increasing number of other gadgets in our house currently accounts for about 3% of our electricity usage in the developed world.  And the percentage is rising.  Astonishing as the number sounds, one sane person says the number could reach ten times that amount.

There are two questions I think are worth asking about this particular statistic:

Question 1.  Would it matter much if we all stopped using our stand by functions?  would a 3% difference be much of a difference at all given the size of the problem we are facing?

I think it would.  First because there is not a single answer to reducing our carbon footprints.  It’s a question of what some experts call “wedges,” none of which are big enough in themselves but added up together can make up the whole pie.

And it matters for a bigger reason.  Change is going to come from the bottom up on this issue.  Our governments aren’t going to change policy in relation to global warming unless politicians believe it’s what people want and are going to throw the non-doers out of office and vote in the doers.  The same goes for business, which gets to question 2.

Question 2:  Is there anything else besides our each standing up to turn our televisions on and off at the source that can be done to stop the relentless drip-dripp of electricity as a result of 24 hour stand bys?  Well, yes.  Businesses are already changing many of the stand by features to turn off during the night, or are eliminating them altogether.  If they find out that this modification helps sell their products, they will keep getting better at reducing their product’s extravagant electricity grabs. 

So again, it’s down to the individual.  It’s only going to get done if we do it one by one, and bit by bit.


About Terry Sissons

Terry Sissons is the author of The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks, and this blog is a dialogue about the universe and what’s happened in the last 13 billions years.
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