Vampire Power and the Money We Lose

Cable éléctrique Thaï courtesy Anglae0 on FlickrWhen I started dating my hubby, I owned the following electronics:

  • A cheap, 3-disc changer stereo that was roughly the size of a large breadbox
  • A CD walkman that ran on AA batteries (rechargeable)
  • A Sony Dream Machine clock radio
  • A laptop
  • A small point-and-shoot film camera
  • A cordless phone
  • One cellphone and one charger
  • One TV
  • One satellite box and its dish.

This was when I was in my early 30s, the height of my earning power as a single woman. I had EVERYTHING I desired and more! My satellite box even had a DVR in it!

Sigh… then things started to change.

I met and fell in love with a man whose paycheck relies on our ability, as consumers, to plan ourselves all the way to obsolescence. Thus slowly began what I call the ACQUISITION phase of my life.

We now have many more of ALL of the items listed– some of which have gotten smaller (from CD players to MP3 players) and some of which have gotten MUCH larger (from 21″ screen to 50″ screen LCD).

Things have multiplied, though. Especially the chargers. I have owned roughly 10 differently cell phones since then (a conservative guess) and they have all come with their chargers and car chargers. I am NOT counting Colin’s phones in that number.

Vampires in  Our Midst

Today at church I ran into Marilyn, who was working on a quilt.

“You know what I want to know?” she said, apropos of nothing. “How much is it costing me a DAY for my son to run his computer non-stop?? He NEVER turns it off.”

“Not even to hibernate it?” I asked. What a lazy bonehead, I was thinking. You should kick him out.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she grumbled. “I’ve never owned a computer because I’ve never met a person with one who was the better for it.”

This, of course, where my thoughts on counting electronics started from.

In a 2007 New York Times article, Larry Magid estimated that his PC was “continuously drawing 134 watts all night.” His TiVo was “sucking 30 watts” when it wasn’t doing ANYTHING– not playing or recording.

Sigh. I have BOTH of those devices.  And So. Many. More.

I see money seeping out of our house all over the place– from chargers, and toy batteries, and cable boxes and ever-crunching computers (why are they DOING that???). And everytime it twinges inside me. What is the point? Too Much. Stuff.

There are lots of suggestions for reducing “vampire” waste from electronics, but it seems to me the best solution is still to just have less.

Do we really NEED three TVs?

Six cellphones?

Four computers?

Isn’t it weird how even looking at those numbers make them seem outrageous.

But when we start to count what we have, the numbers are often MUCH higher.

  3 comments for “Vampire Power and the Money We Lose

  1. September 18, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Sigh. As I pile heaps of unidentified electronics from the room we are renovating into the trash, I am repeating the same mantra: Need. Less. Stuff. Ugh. I used to boast about how light my carbon footprint was, but here is so much evidence to the contrary.

  2. Colin
    September 20, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Maybe the solution to global warming is to accelerate the rate of increase in electricity demand. If we increase our demand dramatically then power companies are going to need to find other sources for energy which will lead to innovation, and voila – we have cheap, abundant carbon neutral energy. If we try to cut back, they’ll just keep burning coal.
    I think I’ll go home and switch *everything* on to test my theory.

  3. September 20, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    @Colin. Argh.

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