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Power Earth

Energy Star Program Needs an Overhaul 306

Posted by kdawson
from the you-will-sleep-now-and-when-you-wake dept.
Martin Hellman writes "DeviceGuru.com ran my piece raising questions about the EPA's Energy Star program. For example, an Energy Star compliant TV that claims to draw 0.1 watts in sleep mode appears to do that — but only seems to sleep about 25% of the time that it is 'off.' The other 75% of the time it draws about 20 watts, for an effective sleep power draw from the user's perspective that is 150 times what the manufacturer claims. Based on the observations described, it is also questionable how many PC's really are sleeping when their screens are blank, even if the user has turned sleep mode on. Given the billions of dollars and tons of CO2 that are at stake, this situation demands more attention."
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Energy Star Program Needs an Overhaul

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:32PM (#26540741)

    You do want your TV to respond to your remote control, download it's clock-setting and other background data, and be ready to boot up in a timely manner? Don't ya?

    We can reduce it, but this is something that ain't going to zero.

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:35PM (#26540785) Homepage Journal

      Why the heck does a TV need to download the time or background data or Boot up?
      For the remote you could just have a very low power pic listen for the remote and turn the the set. user a super cap to run it and every few days if you don't use the TV have it power it's self up and charge the cap.

      • by slazzy (864185) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:11PM (#26541103) Homepage
        Even if the TV does need to have some background processing going on, there's no reason it can't have a timer to turn on once a week or whatever is needed.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kerashi (917149)

        They're starting to build hard drives into TV's, so you can download shows from the internet. For situations like this, it is quite understandable.

        Though the remote comment is about right. And don't forget the fact that some TV's still store things (like channel list) in volatile memory (with no battery backup!) that has to be maintained by constant current. It's stupid in this day and age, but they do.

        On a related note, there's got to be a way to back up date/time on appliances, or power a clock with a

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by blueg3 (192743)

          If you're not displaying the clock, you can maintain a clock for a long time on a capacitor charge, and a very long time on a battery charge. For something like a microwave that's always displaying the time, you could probably use a battery or rechargeable battery. The battery degrading would probably be the limiting factor there.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)

        Why the heck does a TV need to download the time or background data or Boot up?

        Some TVs have built in guides and channel lists that need to be updated. And I don't want to be watching TV and it to take 20 minutes to scan for channels and find the info on the shows.

        • by KlomDark (6370) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @12:11AM (#26541657) Homepage Journal

          20 minutes? I'd say a whole weeks worth of listings data is no more than a megabyte. What's the bandwidth on an HDTV channel? Something immense I'm sure. Store the channel scan results in flash, no need to rescan each time. Download a meg of text, parse and store it, and you're up and running in two or three seconds.

          Are you FUDding for an energy company or something? Several hundred million devices suddenly using 200 times less power has got to be worrying the publicly traded energy companies.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by LostCluster (625375) *

            A DTV channel is roughly 6 megabits/sec. "True HD" 1080i or 720p is roughly 6 mb/sec. So, you're basically downloading that megabyte on a 56k modem if you're lucky.

            Not to mention, you can't trust that data downloaded yesterday reflects today's TV lineup. Watch all the 480i .2's on NBC stations scramble now that NBC Weather Plus has been subtracted. Even though the shutdown was announced three months ago, some stations still haven't made up their minds what to carry, and therefore are still changing lineups

          • by tabrisnet (722816)

            I don't care it it could be done in 0.1 seconds, it isn't done that way (by Comcast). Everytime I unplug my cable box & TV b/c I go on vacation, it takes a while (I never did clock it) for the TV guide to be populated, and it doesn't happen all at once... it happens in drips and drabs.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Not sure about Comcast but with my Time Warner provided SA8300HD DVR, I have timed it. Mainly because I want to know how long it'll take to reboot in case I need to do it before shows I'm recording start. The SA8300HD downloads a full week of guide data, and whatever else data it needs to get running in just over 5 minutes. I've rebooted the box too many times to count and it's always been within 30 seconds of the other times. Probably a useless fact, but just FYI.

          • by russotto (537200) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @12:33AM (#26541809) Journal

            20 minutes? I'd say a whole weeks worth of listings data is no more than a megabyte. What's the bandwidth on an HDTV channel? Something immense I'm sure. Store the channel scan results in flash, no need to rescan each time. Download a meg of text, parse and store it, and you're up and running in two or three seconds.

            Not so easy, if you're using the ATSC EPG information. It's broadcast; you have to wait for the data to come around, you can't request it. And the data for each channel is available only on that channel. So to get the guide data, you have to scan to each channel sequentially and wait for the data on it; this can take a while. You can't do it while the TV is on (because your tuner is otherwise occupied). It takes significant power to run the tuner. Fortunately, you do only have to do this once every three hours.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by drsmithy (35869)

            Are you FUDding for an energy company or something? Several hundred million devices suddenly using 200 times less power has got to be worrying the publicly traded energy companies.

            Not once everyone starts plugging in their electric cars it won't !

            (Of course, that will bring along a whole new set of worries for "energy companies", but it certainly won't be due to losing business.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sjames (1099)

          Even if it actually takes 20 minutes to get the data (it doesn't), that justifies going from 0.1 Watts to 20 Watts for a total of 20 minutes a day (and then only if it hasn't been turned on for a day).

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by NateTech (50881)

          Two words: TV Guide.

          Whippersnappers... sheesh.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Eivind (15695)

          Agreed. But it is, frankly, ridicolous to need to draw 20 watts 75% of the time in order to keep a tv-guide updated. Downloading such a guide once a day, and doing it when the TV is on anyway would be completely sufficient. And that would mean the TV would only need to wake from deep-sleep and come up to downloading-tv-guide levels of powerusage at most once a day. (never if the TV is used atleast once ever 24 hours)

          A TV-guide is what, 5MB of data ? MY EEE-pc can download 5MB worth of data using wireless ne

      • Most PICs aren't too power efficient. What you want is something like a TI MSP430. Those things can run for ages on a supercap.

      • that. Damn thing takes over a minute from the time I push the power button before it will even open the door to load a movie.

        I leave it on across weekends when I know we will view more movies or when it especially cold outside.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      A couple of solar cells on the top of the TV or a supercapacitor should be able to power the remote control sensor. The rest can wait until the TV is turned on.

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:49PM (#26540917) Homepage

      but it can be darn near zero.

      The energy to power a tiny pic and a IR reciever to initiate the power up sequence is less than 100mw This can EASILY be done. They choose not to because it's far easier and cheaper to do it with the main processor. or In most Cable boxes case, simply turn off the screen and led's The comcast cable box really does not turn off, it simply blanks the screen and turns off the led display. This is a pain in the arse for us integration companies as you cant detect power draw to detect if a low grade device is on or off. (high end devices have discreet on and off IR signals or RS232 control)

      The manufacturers want to save $2.95 per device made and refuse to have a discreet "on" response circuit that will allow the set or device to completely power down. but then most manufacturers are too cheap to properly design the hardware for remote control anyways. Not having discreet codes is simply shoddy workmanship.

      • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:02PM (#26541033)

        Comcast wants its boxes to stay connected to the network at all times... remember, they're still using coax while the rest of data delivery went to multiple twisted pairs. Coax networks become unstable if users are constantly logging on and off. Back in the "bad old days", universities had to keep computers powered even when the employee who normally sits at that desk isn't there because too many shutdowns would cause there to not be enough draw on the RF signal, and the network would start burning out faster than usual.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Wow, they must hate me then. I power off my entire entertainment system when I'm going to be away from it for more than a few hours; just one switch on my UPS that every component plugs into. My power bill is about $5/mo lower when I do that than when I let the energy vampyres that are cable boxes/etc. have their way. So to save themselves $2.95 one time on my box I have to power down to save myself $5/mo which then causes faster burnout of even more expensive equipment which costs???/year...a stitch in tim

          • Do you know what the power draw on your box is when "off"?
            I don't have cable, but putting my entire entertainment center on a hard switch only saved me about 1$/month.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by LostCluster (625375) *

            The savings is not the $2.95 cost of a switch... it's the lifespan of every coax connection in the area that's impacted. See, an RF network has enough energy to power a lightbulb... and just like a lightbulb things can burn out. If you remember V=IR from physics, you know that if the voltage stays the same, and a resistor is taken out of the network, up goes the current flow. Out burns the wire... and you don't have much of an idea where to look for the failure.

            All of your street-or-so's traffic is on the s

        • Actually, Comcast (TimeWarner, Cox, etc) wants the boxes to stay connected for a few reason.

          1: Power cycling the AC current off and on shortens their lifespan.

          2: They act as indicators when an outtage occurs. It's much easier to isolate the faulty segment when a cluster of boxes are offline.

          3: They can push out the latest channel guide and firmware updates in the middle of the night when most people are sleeping.

      • AT&T U-Verse set top boxes are the worst. They don't even turn off the display, they turn on a screen saver when you hit the power.

      • by alienw (585907)

        Um, can you run a pic off of 120/240Vac in a safe UL-approved manner, and still draw less than 100 mW, AND have enough power available to operate a relay? I very seriously doubt that. Hell, I bet the goddamn surge suppressor MOVs on the input leak more than 100 mW. It's fairly complicated to design a good power switch, and $2.95 for a device with a $15-20 bill of materials is a lot of money, especially given that pretty much nobody gives a shit. Getting the power consumption of an ac power supply that f

        • Easy. A supercap for the microcontroller, a decent normal cap for the relay. Use a latching relay. Have the micro power on the main PSU when the supercap runs low, until it charges back up.

          At a place where I used to work, we used to have units running microcontrollers and communicating in an RF network, plus opening and closing large 12V valves at times, with an average current consumption in the microamps range. Some of the newer units were a lot smaller than a matchbox and had enough burst power to turn a

    • You do want your TV to respond to your remote control

      I don't know where you have your TV, but I know mine is easily in a place where I could press the power button on my own and then do everything else by remote to save on power consumption.

      download it's clock-setting and other background data

      I don't own a TV that downloads its own clock setting. Though I haven't bought a TV in a while...

      And what background data does a TV need anyways?

      and be ready to boot up in a timely manner?

      I've never really considered the boot up time to be that terrible for TVs that I have turned on manually in the past. I don't consider TV that important that the difference

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)

        I don't know where you have your TV, but I know mine is easily in a place where I could press the power button on my own and then do everything else by remote to save on power consumption.

        So, unplug and replug your TV every time you want to watch it. I honestly don't care if my TV uses 20 Watts when it isn't turned on or not, that is a rather insignificant part of my electric bill for a major part of my (and most people's) life.

        I don't own a TV that downloads its own clock setting. Though I haven't bought a TV in a while... And what background data does a TV need anyways?

        Some TVs have a guide that you can use to see what is on. And yes, there are actually TVs with built-in guides not using the cable box. It might be important to have that load in a timely matter rather than 15-20 minutes later.

        I've never really considered the boot up time to be that terrible for TVs that I have turned on manually in the past. I don't consider TV that important that the difference between 2-3 seconds (LCD) and maybe 20-30 (old CRT) is at all important.

        Then unplug and replug in your TV,

        • Your post is a set of trollish exaggerations, so force it to fit your views.

          So, unplug and replug your TV every time you want to watch it. I honestly don't care if my TV uses 20 Watts when it isn't turned on or not, that is a rather insignificant part of my electric bill for a major part of my (and most people's) life.

          No it not rather insignificant. The devices add up. And you don't know shit about most people. You are just stating that out of your ass. Show me someone who does not want to save money.

          Some TVs have a guide that you can use to see what is on. And yes, there are actually TVs with built-in guides not using the cable box. It might be important to have that load in a timely matter rather than 15-20 minutes later.

          Some TVs have that guide. This may be true. And if you knew anything about embedded computers, you'd know, that never on earth would any system need to load the data for your completely exaggerated 15-20 minutes. If you are talking about updating th

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Culture20 (968837)

            I honestly don't care if my TV uses 20 Watts when it isn't turned on or not, that is a rather insignificant part of my electric bill for a major part of my (and most people's) life.

            No it not rather insignificant. The devices add up. And you don't know shit about most people. You are just stating that out of your ass. Show me someone who does not want to save money.

            Wow, are you a depression era kid (or a kid of a DEK)? Almost everyone I know younger than 60 doesn't care if they leave lights on all over the place. That's at minimum 40W per light, more likely 75W. Even my parents (who do turn off lights when not in a room) don't remove power from devices like VCRs, DVDs, TVs, computers, wifi routers, stereos, etc. I'm not a wastrel, but I find my way of life much less stressful, not worrying about the $0.01s

            Then unplug and replug in your TV, the rest of the world wants TVs to boot up instantly.

            Am I right guessing that you ignore connector strips with real power switches,

            It's the same thing, but more expensive. Why would you ask

          • by cdrguru (88047)

            Trying to conserve your way to increased generation capacity won't work. Even if everyone in the US decided to be ultra-conservative with electric power, there isn't enough for everyone in a year or so.

            We're skating around the issue by building massively inefficient "peaker plants" that run on natural gas. What is needed is more base load generating capacity and we aren't going to get it. Certainly not in time, and with the environmental movement, it is unlikely we will ever build another large generatin

        • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:56PM (#26541513)

          So, unplug and replug your TV every time you want to watch it. I honestly don't care if my TV uses 20 Watts when it isn't turned on or not, that is a rather insignificant part of my electric bill for a major part of my (and most people's) life.

          At 15 cents per kWh, that's $26 per year. That's like having to buy a case of beer for your TV every six months.

          If it's technically feasible to have the TV *not* consume 20W, I'd prefer to keep the beer money for myself.

          • by Culture20 (968837)

            That's like having to buy a case of beer for your TV every six months.

            My TV is worth it. Prost!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by vlm (69642)

            At 15 cents per kWh, that's $26 per year. That's like having to buy a case of beer for your TV every six months.

            Where I live, we need some level of home heating 6 months out of the year. Now you're down to $13 since every watt not provided by the TV has to come from my HVAC system, a watt here a watt there its all the same. Of course for 3 months out of the year, my roughly 10 C.O.P. air conditioning system has to use 1/10th of the dissipated energy to pump the heat back outside, raising it to $13.75 annual cost. Of course most people don't live in CA so the electricity costs at least 1/3 to 1/2 less than your cos

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by arminw (717974)

          ....So, unplug and replug your TV every time you want to watch it...

          We have an X-10 system with a wireless control for lights and selected wall outlets. The TV and the rest of the entertainment system is plugged into one of these. In addition to completely shutting off the power at the push of a button, a motion sensor shuts off the system if it detects absolutely no movement in the room for 20 minutes. A designated button on the remote controls the system and another dims the room lights.

          • So the X-10 system does consume energy as well, though probably less.

            • by sjames (1099)

              I've found that at least the low cost X-10 wall switches waste a considerable amount of power. I plugged in a lamp w/ a 25 watt bulb and it never stopped giving off light, even when 'off'

              It turns out they constantly draw power through the filament in order to hear the commands on the wire. With a 60 watt bulb it's not enough to visibly glow but it'sa lot more than absolutely necessary.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sjames (1099)

          Fine and dandy, so what's the excuse for the manufacturer lying about the stand-by power consumption? If it draws 20 Watts, they should say so and let the market decide if that's acceptable when another model actually draws 0.1 Watts in stand-by. I'm guessing they figured it WILL matter to people or they wouldn't bother lying.

    • download it's clock-setting and other background data

      My wristwatch (Casio Wave Ceptor) downloads its 'clock settings' every night, for years, on a tiny watch battery. Close enough to zero to not matter. And FAR below what current TVs use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sjames (1099)

      20 Watts is a LOT just to listen for a remote control and a time signal. There are 500MHz micro ATX computers w/ 64 MB of ram that only draw 5 Watts at full power.

      I'm not convinced it even needs to listen to the time signal. Even a crappy clock should be able to keep within a few seconds even if the TV is turned off for a month. It can sync up when it's turned back on. Most TVs will be turned on daily. Some may be only weekly.

      Of course, whatever the figure is, the manufacturer COULD have reported it more h

    • We can reduce it, but this is something that ain't going to zero.

      And that's fine, but if you can't reduce it to a low enough level, you don't get the little star on your box. It's not like this is rocket science. You can still make TVs if you aren't energy concious.

    • I just walk past it, push the power button, and pick up the remote on the way to the couch. All I need is on and off....there is nothing on TV so important I can't wait a few seconds for it to cycle on.
    • by Toonol (1057698)
      Well, I want it to do the first, respond to the remote. The other examples are all points of annoyance and possible failure.
  • You don't need to spin the the HD 24/7 power it down when not needed.

    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:37PM (#26540813)

      Cable/Sat DVR's don't know when they're going to get hit with a data download being addressed to them. They have to always be ready to take it, therefore always spinning. Besides that, it doesn't take that much power to keep the disc spinning, compared to frequent re-starts after stops.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        But why does a computer need its HD spinning to alert to an incoming message? If the DVR is idle, it should have enough RAM to cache the whole message until the disk spins up. I ran into this when trying to use one home PC as a backup to others. Only way to ensure it would respond to SMB messages was to disable power management, hence my frustrated tone.
      • by ajlitt (19055)

        Actually, my UVerse DVR is smart enough to spin the drive down when it's in soft power-off (i.e. not using the disk as for the 1-hour live tv buffer). Every so often, I'll hear the classic spin-up whine and then a few seconds later the record light turns on. Microsoft may be the devil, but their IPTV software stack can at least get this right.

      • Cable/Sat DVR's don't know when they're going to get hit with a data download being addressed to them. They have to always be ready to take it, therefore always spinning. Besides that, it doesn't take that much power to keep the disc spinning, compared to frequent re-starts after stops

        You don't really need an HD to be spinning for that. When the data starts coming start doing buffered writes, the hard disk will start when there is data to be written to it and in the mean time memory takes care of the data i

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by julesh (229690)

        Besides that, it doesn't take that much power to keep the disc spinning, compared to frequent re-starts after stops.

        A hard disk typically consumes about 10W to keep spinning. It consumes about 30W for roughly 2 seconds to start up. Therefore, any time it stops spinning for more than 6 seconds is a net powersave.

  • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:43PM (#26540861) Homepage
    The television in question appears to be actively "on" in the sense that the tuner is on and is sourcing program guide information in standby. When the tuner is not, the consumption is as claimed.

    Suggesting that the testing regime is faulty is a stretch. As with all the other qualms mentioned in the article, you have to question whether the manufacturer provided a proper product, rather than one designed to pass, followed by production of one with "faulty firmware".

    There isn't a whole lot of restriction out there for this type of practice in any standards testing. At least, you can get away with it, most of the time. I doubt there are many people charged with testing retail devices to see if energy star compliance is maintained. I'd guess that was the major problem.
    • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @12:03AM (#26541583)

      > When the tuner is not, the consumption is as claimed.

      Of course the report is that it is downloading updates via the tuner most of the time. Obviously that isn't needed and probably isn't normal. The problems here are that a) Sony eityher has a firmware bug or the local PBS station is hosing the broadcast of the schedule data, b) without a kill-a-watt being deployed nobody would ever know if their TV has a similar problem and c) Sony didn't provide a way to kill a feature that for most people is a waste of time and electricity.

      A program guide in the TV is pretty useless for most people who already have a settop box (cable or sat) that provides guide data. For those on an antenna it is a perfectly aceptable feature to have so no problem including it, just provide a way for most owners to turn the darned thing off.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't watch television!

  • by twmcneil (942300) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @10:59PM (#26541005)
    The Energy Star Program has needed an overhaul since the day of inception.

    From http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/product_specs/eligibility/tv_vcr_elig.pdf [energystar.gov]

    4) Test Methodology: Manufacturers are required to perform tests and self-certify those models that meet the ENERGY STAR guidelines.

    Self-Certify? You've got to be kidding.

    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:17PM (#26541155)
      This is just like the IRS... you're expected to report income and deductions and self-certify your filing. If the government thinks you got it wrong, or just picks you out of a hat, they audit. If they allege you cheated, you're on the defensive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tcgroat (666085)
      No, not kidding. Like many technical regulations, the cost and expertise required is considerable and the government has little desire to be involved (and less funding). Some large companies can afford to run their own test labs with the necessary equipment and training, but most don't. If you don't have a steady stream of testing, expensive gear is left sitting idle and the test techs' expertise grows stale. That's why independent testing labs are in business: you hire a reputable, qualified lab to do the
  • Read a thermometer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geofgibson (1332485)
    "Given the billions of dollars and tons of CO2 that are at stake, this situation demands more attention." Given the global cooling underway, burn as much coal as you possibly can! We need the heat.
  • by Corpuscavernosa (996139) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:25PM (#26541239)
    WTF is that?
  • by rhyre (464193) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:33PM (#26541305) Homepage Journal

    Before going crazy overhauling, let's audit the devices that are out there. Then you can assign marketing labels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum) in case you can't read the numbers. (Numbers would be watts per day, assuming constant usage)

    Just create something the FCC registration process/database, and let certified labs submit their own engineering reports on the TRUE power consumption. I've never seen any Energy Star audit reports.

    • by Darkk (1296127)

      I don't think people would truly understand what it really means to save energy. Simply because you have customers out there who really could care less or think it's too much of a hassle. These are the same people who buy SUVs!!

      They don't either realize or care these little things do add up over time.

      Until we get to the point the electric company will start to impose electric rations as the norm which we in California almost had it happen due to shortages! PG&E been trying to encourage people to sign

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        You don't really understand the magnitude of the problem. We can't conserve our way out of growth and we can't conserve our way out of having exceeded generating capacity.

        Absolutely, rationing is coming. Involuntary rationing, like "electric free Tuesdays" and the like. Don't like it? Look to California and the environmental movement - we haven't been building capacity at the rate the country has been importing people. The KWH available per capita has been dropping since the 1960's and it is beginning

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Numbers would be watts per day, assuming constant usage

      By the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe, NO!

      Watt is equal to joules per second. It is a unit of energy per time. Watts or milliwatts would be the correct unit. I blame the kilowatt-hour for starting the metric system down the road to customary.

  • Why tons of CO2? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by j. andrew rogers (774820) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:45PM (#26541409)

    There would not be billions of tons of CO2 at stake if we were not generating electricity with coal. Inefficient electrical devices are almost irrelevant to that problem, and pretty much miss the point. Energy efficiency and CO2 production are only weakly related, much like the case with cars, and it is kind of irritating that people so often conflate the two. If everybody in the US switched to commuting in a Prius tomorrow, it would have a negligible impact on total CO2 production (the vast majority of CO2 comes from electricity generation), but it is often sold in those terms. If you get your electricity from nuclear or some other type of green power, there is negligible CO2 impact from having slightly less efficient electrical devices.

    If you want to reduce oil consumption you might buy a Prius, and if you were actually serious you would move to a high-density urban area or lobby cities to allow them to be built.

    If you want to reduce CO2 production you might buy more efficient "green" electrical devices, and if you were actually serious you would lobby for nuclear (and other non-CO2) power plants.

    Part of the reason many environmental policies accomplish so little is that they are largely about symbolism over substance (see: Kyoto). Most people, including many nominal environmentalists, care more about looking like they care than actually solving the problem, particularly if the solution forces them to materially change their lifestyle or preconceptions. It is a cheap and mostly symbolic way to get social approval without actually having to be responsible for enacting useful changes that would actually make a difference. Everyone is so busy trying to prove how green they are that almost no one is actually, well, making the world green.

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      In the US for the foreseeable future, the problem is that base load generating capacity is maxed out. We are not going to build nuclear plants - too many protesters. We are not going to build new high-tension transmission lines - too many protestors. Without either of these a few wind farms aren't going to make much difference.

      The only real solution is to build more coal-fired generating plats. And our new President says he isn't going to allow that.

      We are currently trying to "conserve" our way out of h

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by alienw (585907)

        I think that problem is very easy to solve. Don't allow any more coal plants to be built, and resolve the shortage using rolling blackouts. Significant opposition to nuke plants will disappear after two or three days. After a week or two, you'll have a pro-nuke movement.

        • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @02:41AM (#26542723) Journal

          I think that problem is very easy to solve.

          Me too! I live in California.

          Don't allow any more coal plants to be built

          Done.

          and resolve the shortage using rolling blackouts.

          Done.

          Significant opposition to nuke plants will disappear after two or three days.

          Eh....

          After a week or two, you'll have a pro-nuke movement.

          Really? 'Cause that's not what's happening here... Perhaps this quote has some bearing?

          "For every complex question, there is a simple answer-- and it's wrong."

          -- H.L. Mencken

  • I want a little, tiny device, which I'll call the "shutter-offer," that plugs into the wall and has an AC socket that you can plug, e.g., a TV into. When the RMS current passing through the shutter-offer falls below 250 mA for one hour, it opens a switch, and it's as if the TV had been unplugged completely. When you walk into the room and want to watch TV, you push a button on the shutter offer to close the switch again. It's a hassle to remember to physically unplug your TV every time you're done watching

    • by arminw (717974)

      ....To make it really super convenient, you could have a wireless device similar to the keychain widget....

      There are such gadgets as part of the X-10 or Insteon power control system. Smarthome.com sells both varieties. X-10.com also has suitable devices. We have such a system to control lights with timers and motion detectors. One of the channels is used to control the main power to the entertainment system. When a motion sensor sees no more motion for 20 minutes in the living room, it shuts off the enterta

  • First off, either unplug your life from electric power or understand that that moving back to 1850 is going to be ... well, impossible. In order to decrease the energy usage of the country we are going to have to really go back to 1850 - you can't "conserve" your way out of the current situation.

    If we aren't going to build increased generation capacity, we are going to just have to start turning stuff off. Forever. And by all accounts, we aren't going to build generation capacity. We might replace some

  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Wednesday January 21, 2009 @01:05AM (#26542111)
    The government has been hiding free energy devices acquired from extra-terrestrials for decades in order to enrich the cloaked people who really control the Bush patsies.

    Now, however, it is a new day in America and Obama will embrace the emancipation of free energy and cordial relations with beings from outer space. Amen.

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