Be power smart | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 14, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 14, 2012

Be power smart

No single rain drop can be held accountable for a flood but collectively they are. Little good things we do in everyday life make a significant difference collectively. Little change in our habit of electricity usage can make a significant difference regarding our power crisis when we work towards it as a nation.
This little change will not impact your everyday life and you will continue to enjoy your life the way we do now.
Let's start with the most ubiquitous mobile device -- the cell phone. What happens if you leave yours plugged in all night? According to measurements from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the average cell phone draws 3.68 watts of power from the outlet while charging and 2.24 watts when charged. Let's take the worst-case scenario and assume that you're over-juicing a charged battery for the entire night. Leave the average phone plugged in for eight unnecessary hours, and it'll use about 0.018 KW-hours of electricity.
Now do that math for 10 million cell phones. That is 1,80,000 units of energy we burn carelessly every day.
What about the other habits we have? Every time we walk by the refrigerator, we cannot help but open the door to have a cold glass of water or just to check whether some sweets have been saved for the guests or even check on some favourite evening snacks.
Home Energy magazine claims that opening these doors account for 7% of fridge energy use, assuming 42 door openings a day. The Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida adds that poor open/close habits waste 50 to 120kWh a year. A 15 second opening and closing of that door could cause the compressor to run extra 25 seconds to compensate the temperature drop depending on the internal temperature setup and the ambient temperature.
With this habit we waste approximately 0.3KW-hours per day per refrigerator. Now, for 5 million refrigerators that is 1,50,000 units of energy we burn carelessly every day.
Computers and laptops have become a household commodity for city dwellers. A typical desktop computer uses about 85 to 250 watts. Add another 35-70 watts for an LCD monitor, or about 80 watts if you have an old 17" CRT.
Most laptop computers use about 25-60 watts. Leaving them on while you are not using them is a significant wastage of power. An average of two hours per day idle time for a desktop could burn 0.6KW-hour and for a laptop 0.1KW-hour. Now do the math for 0.2 million computers and 20,000 laptops in office and houses. That is combined of 1,40,000 units of energy burnt per day.
Remember the days when our wives or house maids would leave the gas stove on overnight, so that they don't have to waste a match stick in the morning to light the stove. Well, that changed. At the same time, we all are getting smarter slowly for the usage of lights, fans, TVs and ACs. But there is still room for improvement.
While CFL energy saving bulbs is becoming popular, a mandate from power authority is required to enforce the usage of CFL or LED bulbs. A typical CFL consumes less than one-third of energy than an incandescent bulb light. If we you replace your total of 500W incandescent bulb with a total 125W CFL you are saving 375W. For four hours of usage per day, it is 1.5KW-hour worth of extra energy you are burning each day. For 1 million such households, that is 1.5 Mega Watt-hour of energy we burn carelessly.
Let's forget about other power hungry appliances, like TV and AC, we already saved approximately 2 MegaWatt-hour worth of energy per day by making a little change in our habits. The user numbers in each category are based on pure and conservative assumption due to lack of data.
The actual number could be double. Considering how much money our government pays to the quick rental service providers, our habits cause them to pay an additional approximately 5-7Crore Taka per day. That is about 2,000 Crore Taka per year or even more if we consider other power hungry electrical and electronics. Shocking as it may sound, it bears witnesses -- just look around your house and think about your habits. Just change the habits for a month and check your electric bill for that month.
Whether the government pays for or we do for our wastage -- it's our money either ways. Let's spend it wisely by saving for us and for our kids and their future. Regardless of how much we care about national spending, we sure do care about our own wallets. Make the change today and see the benefit near tomorrow! And, yes, you don't have to change your lifestyle, yet, you can improve it silently by saving the extra money that is deducted from your electric bill.

The writer is Director, Shouro Bangla Ltd.

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