In this day and age, we are pretty dependent on our devices. How many hours can we live without our smartphone, our AirPods, our tablet, or our laptop? The answer will be very few if any at all.
While the question of how healthy it is to stay on-grid always is for another post, today I want to address the energy side of this.
So, how much energy do we use to keep our devices running? While this number can differ dramatically from case to case, it is always a good idea to find ways to decrease it.
So here are some tips and tricks to save energy while charging your stuff.
Now, let’s be clear here: you definitely won’t save a fortune with these. The point is you need a certain amount of energy in each of your devices, and that amount is not going to go down unless you change your lifestyle.
The question here is more about the so-called “vampire energy”: the energy that gets lost in between the charging sessions and even while charging something.
Let’s make something else clear too. There are several much more energy-wasting things in every house than mere charging of your gadgets, like your TV, or your game console, for example. If you want me to share more general tips on saving energy, drop a comment under this one, and I will address that.
But for now, let’s focus on our rechargeables. And let’s start with before-I-need-to-charge tips.
Turn on that energy-saving mode on your smartphone! And generally, turn off the functions you don’t use. Really, having the wi-fi and Bluetooth and GPS on drains your phone. If you’re running around the city, turn that wi-fi off. If you don’t have your peripherals connected to your phone via Bluetooth, turn that thing off! This way, you’ll simply have to charge less. And charging less means using less energy.
Don’t leave your devices turned on. Simply don’t. You don’t use it, and you turn it off, it does not use any energy, you need to charge it later. Now, of course, it is not to say that if you’re leaving your laptop for a couple of hours, you should turn it off. That’s irrational. But at the end of the day, don’t just close it and hope that’s it. The sleeping mode uses power.
Stop checking on your device every minute or so. I know it’s a hard one! But consider it will not only maximize the battery time, but it will also save you a ton of time.
Now I know these tips seem to be pretty basic and a no-brainer. But I also know that these are things everybody keeps neglecting, myself included.
So, after nodding to those three-point above and scattering them off from our brains, let’s look at the actual process of charging:
Opt for charging through a wire. Wireless chargers lose so much more energy! Yes, they are easier and need no fiddling with a cord. But there can be any number between 39% and 80% of energy loss while charging wirelessly. Plus, there is no way not to fully use the cable on charging: it either charges or doesn’t charge. With wireless chargers, depending on how exactly you matched the coil on your phone with the coil on your charger, the amount of energy lost (and the charging time of your device consequently) can change drastically.
Don’t use your device while charging. I know it’s a tough one too. But remember for a minute how much your phone heats when you browse while connected to the charger. All that heat is lost electricity. The better option still: turn your device off for charging. Or at least turn on the airplane mode.
And finally, let’s look into the in-between space.
Unplug that charger when not in use. Yep, that simple. While the web is full of articles that the loss is so minor that it’s not worth considering, let’s make a small calculation. Each and every one of us has several chargers temporarily plugged in. First and foremost, there’s at least one smartphone charger. That’s if we’re alone and in a small apartment. Most likely, there are several of these plugged in.
Use power strips. There’s a whole selection of these at different prices and with different functionalities. Even the most basic ones will make things better, as they allow you to switch all your chargers off without unplugging them. The more advanced ones even determine when no device is plugged in and switch off automatically. Either option restricts the chargers transformers from drawing energy from the grid.
To wrap up, let’s just manifest: we can save a bit of power through being mindful with charging our devices, but most of us most likely will not take the trouble. It’s not as much as to surprise us on our next monthly electricity bill after all. And let’s be honest, we want results that can be seen immediately; that’s simply how our brains work.
And yes, this is not a big deal, but small steps make up our minds and clear our way.