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A battery charger or power adapter converts the high voltage electricity from a wall outlet to the low voltage power used to recharge the batteries in devices like cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, digital cameras, laptops, and camcorders. But many models are very inefficient, turning much of the energy they draw into heat (which is why your charger may be warm to the touch even if not in charge mode.)

Find it! Helpful tools for cutting phantom loads from cell phones

Want to ensure that you're not wasting energy unnecessarily? Buy an ENERGY STAR charger, or consider a solar charger, or a device that includes audio alerts that remind you to unplug the charger when your battery is full.

Unplugging your charger helps you go green because ...

A typical US household uses between five to ten adapters/chargers, and each year, more than one billion new adapters are shipped worldwide.[1]

Only five percent of the total power consumed by a charger is used to juice up a cell phone, smartphone, or PDA.[2] Even while charging, 10 to 16 times more energy is often drawn from the outlet than can be retrieved by the batteries, which means the efficiency for many cell phones is as low as six to 20 percent.[3] The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that if every phone sold in the US in 2007 used ENERGY STAR qualified chargers, which are 40 percent more efficient than standard chargers, the energy saved would prevent over one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent emissions of more than 200,000 cars, and could light 760,000 homes per year.[4][5] Additional national annual savings include 4.5 billion kWh of electricity use, three million tons of carbon dioxide from power plant emissions, and $380 million dollars on the end users' electricity bill.[3]

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Comments

09/29/2009
11:51pm
t00nz

We often hear how cell phone chargers are extremely inefficient and costly in vampire electrical usage if left plugged in. But feel that this particular issue may be somewhat overblown. The above article includes mention of the "Kill A Watt" energy monitor. There are many on the web who have used this monitor with their cell phone chargers to actually measure electrical power consumption when left plugged in. Vampire usage may actually be much lower than many people may think (most people measured around 13 KWH per year, or about $1.50 a year if your local electricity is 0.12 per KWH).

09/30/2009
12:44pm
greengoddess

You make an excellent point. I agree that this claim has been misleading. When it's stated that vampire energy uses 20% of the total energy of a device (pick your #), thats referring to all the energy ever used when device is being used as well as not being used. It does not mean that non-active state uses 20% as much energy as "active" or "in use" state. At least I don't believe so but will look into this more closely....

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