Earth Hour is Tomorrow! Are you going to participate?

Earth Hour 2013

Earth Hour takes a lot of flack for not going far enough, but one study actually measured the impact of Earth Hour, and it's pretty interesting!

What would happen if we all, just for one hour, actually shut off our idling gadgets and pulled our unused chargers out of the socket? Answering that question was the motivation for a new study conducted by leading mobile refurbishment website eCycle Best, leading up to Saturday’s worldwide Earth Hour.

The study surveyed 100 consumers in February 2014 and found that 70 percent of respondents owned at least one device in each of the three main categories:

  • a laptop computer
  • a tablet
  • a smartphone.

More than 40 percent of those confessed to ‘often’ leaving their unused chargers plugged in while only 30 percent say they regularly turn their devices off when not in use. Idle laptops, even without a screensaver, use more than 32 kWh a year. This results in a significant power drain known as “vampire energy use.”

Depending on the exact device type and charger technology, an idling gadget or an unused charger can use up to 0.1 to 0.5 watt per hour, resulting in a yearly power drain equivalent to more than $200 per device. David Kruchinin, CEO of eCycle Best said:

This is money directly out the window for American consumers, but also a welcome and easy opportunity to save the climate without a lot of effort. It is really eye-opening when you add up the number of chargers in an average American home.

So just how much are we wasting with idling gadgets and bad charging habits?

Earth Hour Graphic

In one year, the energy wasted by US households is equivalent to the total output of three coal power plants, 56 wind turbines and a nuclear reactor. Adding a dollar amount is tricky due to varying energy prices, but an average household should be able to save more than $500 yearly just by introducing better charging and device using habits such as:

  1. Turning off unused chargers around the house.
  2. Turning off mobile devices when not in use, especially laptops
  3. Investing in smartphones and other mobile gadgets with newer battery and charger technology.

Earth Hour is a great time to make a commitment to ending vampire energy consumption in your home or office, but that’s only the beginning. eCycle Best hopes that Americans will soon realize the huge financial and environmental impact of these bad habits, and be more mindful of their devices, when they’re in use and when it comes time to dispose of them. As David Kruchinin notes “these changes do not substantially alter our lifestyles, but they have a massive impact on several larger levels."

What do you think? Are you going to cut off your power for Earth Hour tomorrow night?

Image Credit: (Pakistan) 2013, Image © WWF-Pakistan

Energy and Environment News Roundup – 3.28.14

A daily roundup of the most important energy, environment, and climate news from around the world.


IPCC report: Climate change felt “on all continents and across the oceans” (via The Guardian)

Sinking island nations battle tides of climate change (via Deutche Welle)

Facing rising seas, Bangladesh confronts climate change consequences (via New York Times)


Environmentalists debate impacts of LNG exports on global warming (via Greenwire)

Fracking the USA: New map shows 1 million oil, gas wells (via Climate Central)

Report says each Marcellus gas well costs thousands in road damage (via StateImpact Pennsylvania)


2013: Renewable energy’s best of times, worst of times (via CleanTechnica)

Future of Chile’s energy sector lies with renewables, shows new report (via Renewable Energy World)

Wind power “could yield €8.3 billion” for Ireland (via Recharge)

As solar prices fall, wind still finds a role in microgrids (via Navigant Research)

New US wind power projects fall 93% in 2013 (via The Hill)

As net metering battles move to small markets, solar advocates claim early victories (via Energy Collective)

Solar “net metering” extended by California regulators (via San Francisco Chronicle)

California utility PG&E exceeds 20% renewable energy standard (via Greentech Media)

BOEM to hold competitive Maryland offshore wind energy lease auction this summer (via Recharge)

Waste-to-energy could help Wisconsin expand sustainable energy (via Journal-Sentinel)

Kansas flirts with repeal of renewable energy standard (via EnergyWire)

Virginia awards $860,000 in offshore wind research (via Virginian-Pilot)


RGGI announces 2015 CO2 allocation (via Environmental Leader)


One year after Exxon’s Arkansas spill, basic questions still unanswered (via InsideClimate News)


EVs, plug-ins already saving 45 million gallons of gasoline per year in US (via Autoblog Green)


North Carolina inspectors failed to notice crack before coal ash spill (via The Guardian)


Water, wildlife surge back into once-parched Colorado River delta (via Los Angeles Times)

US lists lesser prairie chicken as threatened, energy groups wary (via Reuters)


Ohio GOP drafts plan to freeze state’s renewable, energy efficiency rules (via Columbus Dispatch)

Indiana governor lets energy efficiency program expire (via Indianapolis Star)


Can evolution outrace climate change? (via FiveThirtyEight)

Spring training, and Spring, starting way earlier than usual (via Bloomberg)

Three utilities most likely to fall in death spiral, via Morningstar (via Forbes)

How distributed energy resources affect US capacity markets (via Solar Industry)