Energy saving gadgets energy saving house

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					Energy saving gadgets
The new generation of household gadgets has an insatiable appetite for energy.
Simon Birch looks at products to help our hi-tech homes be a little easier on the planet.

When it comeS to the battle           goods have a voracious appetite for   Your favourite radio show may now
                                                                                                                    JARG O N BUSTER
against climate change, your          kilowatts. Look for the Energy        be broadcast with crystal-clear
living room is on the front line.     Saving Recommended logo, which        clarity, but a digital model            to compare the energy savings
The uncomfortable truth is that       indicates the most energy-efficient   consumes about four times as            from each gadget, standard
everything from your heating and      appliances and now appears on         much energy as an analogue one.         energy terms have been used:
lighting to your computer and tv      more than 3,000 products.                Not all modern technology is so
contributes to global warming and                                           energy-hungry, however. An                KiloWatt (kW)
the subsequent decline of species     heating up                            increasing number of gadgets              A kW simply defines the rate
such as the ptarmigan and polar       The bad news is that any savings      claim to save energy, but do they         at which an appliance is able
bear. According to the Energy         we make from energy-efficient         work? To find out, we’ve tested six       to give out heat or power.
Savings Trust (EST), more than a      fridges and lightbulbs could be       electronic gizmos with energy-            KiloWatt hour (kWh)
quarter of the UK’s carbon            wiped out by the boom in laptops,     saving claims. While even the best        The standard unit for
emissions come just from              flat-screen tvs and digital radios.   don’t save massive amounts of             measuring energy used.
powering and heating our homes.       “By 2020, information,                power, it’s important to remember
                                                                                                                      What is the gadget and what
   The first way to combat this is    communication and                     that it’s collective action that will
                                                                                                                      exactly does it do?
to improve energy-efficiency in       entertainment technology will         help us to win the fight against
                                                                                                                      payBacK period
your house. Make sure you’re not      account for 45 per cent of            climate change.
                                                                                                                      The time required to get your
wasting precious heating power        electricity-use in UK households,”                                              money back. The average UK
by installing insulation everywhere   says Keith Marsh, head of             f u r t h e r i n f o r m at i o n        price of 11.948p per kWh was
you can, including in cavity walls    energy-efficiency at the EST.         the eSt runs a network of energy          used to establish this.
and roof spaces.                         The problem is that many of        advice centres across the country.        performance
   Think energy-efficiency when       today’s new electronic products       to find your nearest, call                How well did the gadget
you need a new fridge-freezer or      consume far more energy than the      ☎ 0800 512012 or visit                    perform?
washing machine, too, since white     outdated models they’re replacing.

82    BBC Wildlife                                                                                                                          May 2008
Eco Kettle                                          Electricity monitor                                Wind-up/solar radio
product creation S 01273 494943                     Windtrap S 07846 916044                            ethical Superstore S 0845 0099 016                                                
cost: £39.99 (includes p&p)                         cost: £47.94 (includes p&p of £3.95)               cost: £26.90 (includes p&p)
  Spec An electric kettle with a nifty, accurate      Spec A monitor attached to your electricity        Spec FM/AM radio powered by wind-up,
  measuring system that allows you to boil            meter transmits information to a portable          solar power or mains electricity.
  exactly how much water you need.                    display panel reporting how much electricity,      energy savings 5kWh a year compared with
  energy savings Up to 51kWh a year.                  carbon dioxide and money you’re using –            powering the radio from mains electricity.
  Independent trials show that the Eco Kettle         encouraging you to save energy.                    payback period 45 years – average annual
  uses about 30 per cent less energy than             energy savings Up to 1,680kWh – a 20 per           energy savings of around 60p.
  standard kettles.                                   cent saving on household electricity usage.        performance Gives about half an hour
  payback period 6.5 years – average annual           payback period 6.5 years – about £6 a year.        playing time after 30 seconds winding and
  energy savings equivalent to about £6.              performance Straightforward to install, and        powers itself if left in the sun. Absence of
  performance It took just seconds to boil            the data showed as soon as I turned on my tv       toxic batteries is a big environmental plus.
  water for one cup of tea.                           and computer.                                      Verdict Everything about it suggests eco-
  Verdict A great example of how well-                Verdict Worth getting if you’re new to the         icon status. The sad reality is that it saves
  designed products can save energy.         7/10     energy-saving effort.                     7/10     virtually no energy.                        2/10

                                                                                                                                             on test

Savaplug                                            Solio solar charger                                Low-energy lightbulbs
Windtrap S 07846 916044                             ethical Superstore S 0845 0099 016                 morrisons S 0845 611 5000                                        
cost: £28.90 (includes p&p of £3.95)                cost: £103.95 (includes p&p)                       cost: 39p each or 3 for £1
  Spec The motor that pumps the refrigerant           Spec A mini-solar panel that charges your          Spec 14-watt bulb with output equivalent
  around a fridge is generally inefficient on         mobile phone and MP3 player.                       to a regular 75-watt bulb.
  older models. A sensor in the Savaplug              energy savings Less than 2kWh a year               energy savings 61kWh compared to a
  boosts the efficiency of this device.               compared with charging a mobile phone              regular 75-watt bulb.
  energy savings 120kWh – about a 20 per              from mains electricity.                            payback period 18 days – average annual
  cent saving.                                        payback period Over 400 years – equivalent         energy savings equivalent to more than £7.
  payback period A little over six months –           to 25p a year.                                     performance Good – provided bright light
  equivalent to about £14 a year.                     performance The Solio works brilliantly, but       virtually instantly.
  performance My old, second-hand fridge-             scores zero for energy savings. Made from          Verdict Lighting is costly, and 95 per cent
  freezer is an ideal candidate, though it’s too      energy-guzzling magnesium, so has a                of the energy of regular bulbs is wasted.
  early to see if Savaplug reduces my bills.          whopping carbon footprint.                         Low-energy lightbulbs stack up both
  Verdict If the claims are accurate, this is a       Verdict Great for charging the mobile on the       environmentally and financially.         9/10
  great little energy-saver.                 6/10     move, but no real environmental benefits. 1/10

May 2008                                                                                                                             BBC Wildlife     83

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