Thinking Green: 5 Easy Tips

Today is Blog Action Day where thousands of blogs and companies have united to increase awareness about the environment. Now would be a great time to share a few energy saving tips I attempt to employ daily. Using less energy with your daily routines means there will be less demand for power and therefore less coal being burned to provide that power. As a sidenote, for the last two semesters I have been working for Georgia Tech's Solar Decathlon project, a Department of Energy initiative to promote green thinking and hold a competition among 20 universities to build an energy-efficient solar-powered house. The competition is taking place now at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. so if you're in the area check out Georgia Tech's house, I've been told my name is somewhere on it.

Georgia Tech Solar Decathlon HouseGeorgia Tech's Solar Decathlon House uses space age aerogel.
  1. Sleeping is good. When your computer is inactive for a short period of time, make sure it goes to sleep. OS X makes this simple with the "Better Energy Savings" preset in System Prefs » Energy Saver. If you're using an external display for your desktop or laptop, manually turn it off when you leave for an extended period of time, especially if your display uses more than 1 Watt in standby mode. It has been said that "standby power accounts for as much as 10% of household power-consumption".
  2. Go CFL. Compact fluorescent light bulbs have come a long way from their buzzing predecessors. They are now inexpensive and use a fraction of the power that incandescent bulbs do. Newer CFLs are offered in a variety of shades so you no longer have to subject yourself to #FFF light if that's not your thing.
  3. Take advantage of your surge protector's always on outlets. Modern surge protectors and power strips have several outlets marked as "always on". You can take advantage of them by plugging in devices that absolutely need to be plugged in at all times in those outlets, making it easier for you to just switch off the rest when you're on your way to work.
  4. Building a PC? Go with a high efficiency PSU. Power supplies like Antec's earthwatts line of PSUs have greater than 80% efficiency on all loads. Compare that to the 60-70% efficiency of traditional power supplies.
  5. Go solar for your gadgets. Ditch the wall warts and charge your gadgets with a Solio universal charger. Just set it on a window sill and you're good to go.

What do you do to lower your energy bill and think green? Other tips include switching to headphones instead of using your 1,000 Watt 10.2 speaker system and unplugging USB/FW computer peripherals when not in use.