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Going green at home

Marc Saltzman
The Costco Connection
March/April 2013

Q: Can you give some energy-saving tips for my home electronics?

A: With an average of 40 gadgets and gizmos plugged into sockets at any one time, we clearly love our gadgets. But a few simple suggestions can greatly reduce power consumption in the home. That's good not only for the environment, but for your wallet.

  • Simply unplug the gadgets from the wall when you're not using them, or when your devices have finished charging up. For example, your smartphone's battery is probably fully charged after 45 minutes, so why leave it plugged in overnight? Often referred to as being on "standby power," electronics plugged into the wall can still consume a lot of electricity-- even when turned off.
  • Many new power strips can cut off electricity to some of their outlets-- ideal for when you're going on vacation, for example-- while other outlets maintain the connection to the power source when turned off (useful for devices such as a personal video recorder, so it can still record your favourite shows). Belkin, for example, has a line of Conserve-branded products that can do this.
  • Purchase eco-friendly consumer electronics branded with the Energy Star logo, as they've been tested and verified to sip rather than gulp power (as much as 90 per cent energy savings on some products). You should see that familiar sticker on the box and the gadget itself.
  • Screen savers on computers are a big no-no, as they consume electricity in order to run. Instead, use the power-management settings on your PC or monitor to have the screen turn off after a few minutes of inactivity.

On a related note, some experts say it's OK to leave your computer on all the time-- instead of shutting it down for the night-- as it goes into sleep mode and doesn't consume much electricity. But do consider buying a laptop instead of a desktop, as laptops use less energy to run.

Q: How about recommendations on apps to help me plan and maintain my garden?

A: Sure, but keep in mind that not all gardening apps will be available on all smartphone platforms.

Idle's Gardener, for example, is a free Android app you can download from Google Play store. It lets you manage your gardens, make notes and store photos, and set reminders for future tasks, such as fertilizing, pruning, and watering.

Gardening Tips from ShamZap is a free Android app that offers a number of tips and tricks for achieving a lush outdoor garden, whether you're growing plants and flowers, fresh food and herbs. The app also contains daily gardening news, as well as images and videos.

Also consider Landscaper's Companion (fee required), Grow Your Own (free) and GardenID (free), all of which offer reference guides, lists of plants native to your location, information about sowing and growing rates, bloom times, sun and water requirements and more. All three are available for Android and Apple devices.


Posted on Monday, March 18, 2013 at 02:18PM by Registered CommenterElaine in | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

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