Electricity guzzling gadgets

A recent report from the UK’s Energy Saving Trust has predicted an ICE age of gadgets guzzling huge amounts electricity, with ICE standing for Information, Communication and Entertainment.

It seems that Britain’s affection for consumer electronics is such that by 2020 ‘ICE age’ appliances including televisions, stereos, cell phones and home computers will comprise 45% of electricity consumed in UK households – a staggering 49 terrawatts, or 49 trillion watts.

According to the report, in 2005, VCR, DVD, DVD-R and PVR consumer electronics accounted for 2.1 terrawatts of electricity consumption. By 2020, domestic video recording equipment is expected to
consume an estimated 3.8 terrawatts.

UK households will have an average of 2.6 television sets by 2020 and standby power mode electricity consumption for tv sets alone will be at 1.5 trillion watts. As the reports puts it, that’s an awful lot of electricity to keep a small red light glowing.

In “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, Kurt Cobain sang .. “here we are now, entertain us”. It sums up well many people’s approach to life these days. Do we really need all this stuff? There’s not just the electricity consumption of these gadgets to consider, but the energy that goes into creating these items and then dealing with the waste once we’re done with them.

Entertainment and information is good, we certainly need it, but I often wonder about the levels and types of media we consume – it can just blind us as to what’s really happening in and to our world, distancing us even further from nature. So many electronic voices competing for our attention, many of them with very little to say except “consume” or “destroy”.

I guess the other moral of this story is – if you’re not using it, switch it off at the wall. I’ve gotten into the habit of doing so in my office of a night time, but I need to extend that practice throughout the rest of the house.

Read the full report The ampere strikes back

Learn more about standy power consumption issues, aka phantom load