Our love of gadgets is canceling out the savings from more efficient household appliances, the International Energy Agency warned this week.
Some individual appliances such as fridges and dishwashers may be increasingly efficient in their energy use, but others are moving in the opposite direction. Flat-screen TVs, for example, use three times as much power as older sets. Desktop computers use considerably more power, and many computer accessories, such as printers, no longer come with an off switch.
The number of people using a personal computer will pass the one billion mark this year. There are already 2 billion televisions in use, and over half the world’s population has access to a mobile phone. Taken together, the world’s electricity needs for consumer electronics is on course to double by 2022.
There are savings to be made. “Electricity consumption from residential information and communications technologies and consumer electronics devices could be cut by more than half through the use of the best available technology and processes which are currently available” says the IEA in new book ‘Gadgets and Gigawatts’. “This would slow growth in consumption to less than 1% per annum through 2030.”
Of course, given CO2 emission targets, even 1% growth in electricity demand may be too high. We need to be scaling back energy use, at least in the countries with the biggest number of toys.
- As always, there’s plenty you can do in your own home. Visit the Energy Savings Trust if you’ve run out of ideas.
- Look out for energy ratings when you buy new products, and resist the temptation to upgrade to more energy intensive models.