Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How to green your electronics

These days, the news is full of stories about the environment. What is the government doing to help? What lengths are factories engaging in to improve the air? Can one person really make that much of a difference? The answer to the last question is yes, particularly when it comes to certain key home purchases.

In the developed world, we have grown used to electronics in our daily lives. From the alarm clock and hairdryer, to light fixtures and appliances; from sunrise to sunset, our electronics enhance our lives. But many concerns have been raised about the effect all these products may have on our planet, in how they’re made and the way they work. The good news is: you don’t have to give up your creature comforts to do your part for the environment. You just have to know enough to make smart choices and change some small habits. Here are some things you can do to reduce your personal burden on the environment.

Getting rid of energy-draining items such as your old-fashioned television and that half-empty extra fridge in the basement will go a long way towards reducing energy use in your home. The technology behind today’s LCD televisions, such as the Sharp AQUOS range, means they use a lot less energy than a conventional TV. Over the years, that can equate to a ton of money saved in hydro bills and a lot less carbon being pumped into the atmosphere.

When you’re thinking about replacing major appliances and household electronics, give some extra thought to how these products are made - and what will become of them at the end of their life. With a little online research, or by talking to a knowledgeable in-store expert, you should be able to determine whether that latest gadget you’ve been craving is actually riddled with heavy metals and other toxic materials. Look for products manufactured in a sustainable way, using recycled and renewable materials, and with a long life cycle.

Another way to green your electronics is simply to turn them off when they’re not in use. This doesn’t only apply to obvious products like stereos and DVD players, but when your laptop computer’s power adapter is plugged in, it’s still drawing a charge - even if your computer is off. The same goes for your cell phone and all mobile device chargers. Most battery chargers just aren’t smart enough to know to stop doing their job just because the device isn’t attached. To save constantly plugging and unplugging your chargers, a simple power bar allows you to switch everything off at the same time.

Stringing up holiday lights is a lot of work so it’s natural to want to enjoy them as much as possible. However, turning the lights off when you go to bed and during the day will help to cut your hydro bill this winter. A cheap timer switch or, even better, a light-activated one, will save you money and reduce your carbon emissions.

Preserving our environment is a challenging task and everyone needs to do their part. Turning off lights, choosing eco-friendly products, and unplugging electronics seems simple enough, but simple steps can go a long way, and you’ll notice the savings in your pocket too.