Stopping the energy vampires

A team of scientists from IBM and several European universities are trying to use nanotechnology to stem the runaway growth of energy consumption by electronic devices. 

The Department of Energy has estimated that vampire energy costs American homeowners about $4 billion every year, and accounts for 5% to 10% of all residential energy use.  Studies in Europe have found similar levels of energy waste.   

The energy loss is caused by transistors, which are the foundation of electronic devices.  But transistors are decades-old technology.

Like a leaky faucet, transistors constantly leak energy – even when the electronic devices are in the “off” position.  But nanotechnology could provide a much tighter “seal”, dramatically increasing efficiency.

An added benefit of the research could be cellphone batteries that last up to 10 times longer than current models, and electronic devices that use virtually no energy when not in use.

The new, improved transistors are not expected to be ready before 2015.

See the full article at: The New York Times Green Blog.

Until the new transistors are ready, you can use a more low-tech approach to reduce vampire energy losses.  When your electronic devices aren’t in use, unplug them from the wall.  I know that can be a hassle; a more labor-efficient alternative is to plug several devices into a power strip and just turn off the power strip.

About the Author

Mark H. Witte is a strong proponent for energy efficiency and renewable energy, and believes individuals should have more control over how the energy for their homes is produced.