Have you heard about standby power use?
This is when you turn your game console off from the remote control and think it does not consume any power from the grid ... this is wrong ... check this list below that shows the amount of standby power usage of some appliances: Appliance: (Range from Min to Max)
; (Average consumption of all sampled units)
DVD player: 0W to 10.5W; 1.5W
Subwoofer: 6W to 21W; 11W
Game console: 0W to 2W; 1W
Audio minisystem: 0.5W to 24W; 8W
LCD computer display: 0W to 4W; 1W
Notebook: 1W to 26W; 4.5W
Scanner / Printer Inkjet: 0W to 10W; 5 W
Set-top box Satellite: 7W to 33W; 16W
Power tool cordless: 0W to 4.5W; 2W
Microwave oven: 2W to 18W; 3W
Remember that these figures are true when the unit is off, but plugged into the grid i.e. you don't use your microwave oven or you pressed the off button on the TV remote control. If you work on the PC it could draw hundreds of watts from the grid. (Whole table here: http://standby.lbl.gov/summary-chart.html)
Lets say the average notebook draws 5W when it's not in use (it is turned off, but the battery charger remainss plugged) - i.e. the times when you are away from home or you sleep. Your audio system will consume 8W and the printer 5W standby power. This will roughly be during half or 2/3 of the day, so:
(5W+8W+5W) * 12 h/day * 365 days = 76 896 Watt-hours per year ...
Now if you have 2 or 3 PCs the result multiplies by the corresponding factor.
And dependig on the local electricity price this equals to $7-10 per year per one PC set only. I am not trying to make a point about how you can save thousands here ... it is more about raising awareness around the standby power use.
A quote from Information and Electronic Technologies: Promises and Pitfall, 2004
:"Estimates of standby power consumption in the European Union (EU) range between 5 and 10 percent of total residential electricity consumption. Standby power is also consumed in commercial buildings (by office and building equipment and appliances, e.g., personal computers, copiers, phone systems, hot-water pumps, central computing devices) but is not yet well documented. A theoretical investigation (Menti 1999) suggested that standby consumption should account for less than 10 percent of total consumption in commercial buildings. However, actual measurements of 32 building appliances in Switzerland (Menti 1999) show that an average of 36 percent of total consumption is due to standby consumption at night (between 20:00 and 6:00) and during weekends.
Of course it is impossible to unplug everything that you don't use from the grid .... except from the frige apparently.
I am challenging you how you can design sustainable tools that fix these issues locally.
I designed a simple, very very simple circuit that detects when you turn your PC on or off and automatically turns the power supply on/off for you. Not only it does turn the power supply automatically on and off, but it can also do the same with the printer, speakers, your desk lamp ... or anything else that is powered from the socket :)