Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Pulverizing Passive Power and Saving Trees

Congratulations on doing your best to keep lights and computers off when you don’t need them. It’s easy to forget, isn’t it? It becomes easier over time and it really does make a difference. That said….

My friend Nina Okens reminded me that there is an Energy Star feature in newer computers (I have the feature in my five year old computer). It automatically shuts down your monitor and puts your computer on standby if you step away for a bit. To set the timeframe to power down, go to your computer’s Control Panel, click Display and you will find a host of options. One of them is Screensaver. You will see the Energy Star icon and the button ‘Power’. Click that and set the time you want for your monitor and computer to shut down.

Thanks Nina!

TO DO This Week

Bored? Try this… turn most of your lights off or dim them so you don’t bang into things (if you have a dimmer, you’re an eco super star!).

After turning off or dimming your lights, walk around. You’ll most likely notice that not everything is off…. You may have your stereo system on, a computer speaker or your DVD player. Something else is on as well. Most of us have standby boxes or electrical wands. Most of us leave these on all the time. Do you know how much energy they use? According to Dave Reay in Climate Change Begins at Home, they consume 10% of the electricity in you home (and your work I would assume). That’s wasted energy and wasted money. Turn them off. You don’t need them on. Collectively, in the United States alone, standby power is responsible for 30 million tonnes of GHG emissions annually. In Canada, that’s probably around three to five million tonnes - just from passive energy!

In fact, some energy appliances that don’t need to be on consume energy even when you think they’re off. Either unplug them, or connect them to a wand and shut the wand off.

And after you do…listen. Notice anything?

Start thinking about how often you print at home and at work. Do you use both sides of the paper whenever you can? Do you print on recycled paper? If you can, keep note on how much paper you use on average per week.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average worker consumes about 10,000 sheets per year – equivalent to one tree. I figure that with all my years at university and at the office, I’ve used up at least 20 trees. And then some! Think of all the other paper products we consume.

To top that off, our consumption of paper is growing by about 20% every year. I don’t think I need to tell you how important trees are to life on this planet - as vital carbon sinks, oxygen producers, air conditioners and homes to countless species.

Let’s think before we print. Let’s not print unless we feel it’s really necessary to do so. I’ve made a rule for myself. The paper does not go into the recycling bin unless it’s been printed on two sides. If you have a two-sided function on you printer, please use it. Otherwise, reuse printed paper by putting it back in your printer’s paper tray. My printers at work and home offer the option to print two or four pages on the same page. This really helps to reduce my paper use. You can find that function in the properties button when you command you printer to print.

By doing these things, you can cut your printing (and printing costs) by more than a half!

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