What will I gain in the process of reducing energy and electricity use? Since completing the first week of my sustainable behavior challenge, I have had the opportunity to explore not just the environmental impacts that such behavior might achieve, but also the impact that this behavior change has on my daily life. Interestingly enough, making sure that I am conscious of when my electronics are plugged into the wall and when my lights are turned off is actually saving me my own time and energy! I am much more efficient with charging my phone and laptop, because I have set aside periods of time to charge these devices and have begun to unplug them immediately after they achieve a full charge. Not only does this mean that I am charging my electronics on a schedule and know exactly when I should be unplugging them, but this new way of efficient charging means that my laptop and phone are less likely to completely run out of battery during the day!
More specifically, my new habits are definitely yielding some positive environmental implications. According to the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, reducing the amount of “standby power” that electronic appliances draw from a power source can have a considerable impact, because standby power can result in energizing an appliance or electronic device even when it is not in use. Furthermore, although research varies, it is evidenced that very regular and “aggressive” approaches to reducing energy use by unplugging appliances can decrease standby use by as much as 30%. This means that it is one viable way (although perhaps not the most efficient) to decrease home energy consumption. According to data concerning home energy use in developed countries, this standby power can constitute 5% to 10% of energy use and is responsible for 1% of total global CO2 emissions.
The most difficult change I had to make during my behavior change was coordinating a new system to plug my different devices into the wall. By changing which electronics use extension cords and plug into different locations, I have been able to start unplugging a single power strip that contains every electronic that draws unnecessary standby power. Additionally, getting myself into the habit of turning off my closet light has been a more difficult pattern to get into than I expected. Yet knowing that I am making positive environmental choices has by far been the most positive experience I’ve had so far. I have also been more conscious about turning lights off in other rooms, and I have constantly been thinking about how each of my every day actions affects the environment.