The Hidden Cost of Convenience

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Posted by peter88 from the Home and Garden category at 17 Aug 2011 12:26:42 pm.
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With so many different devices deemed necessary these days, people often are unaware of the amount of energy used and the costs associated with keeping these devices running. While there has been a lot of discussion on "vampire" devices, electronics that continue to consumer power even when in the stand-by position, it seems that many other everyday hidden costs are overlooked.
Take a refrigerator that was purchased ten or more years ago. It may still be running today just as strong, and appear that is does not need replacing. But did you know that the refrigerator technology has improved energy efficiency features and offer better performing motors to help save electricity? According to the California Energy Commission (www.consumerenergycenter.org), older refrigerators could be costing you up to $280 a year in electricity. A newer, more efficient model could pay for itself in a year or two.

Similarly, if you have an older television with the classic cathode-ray tube in it, even if just as a secondary TV in the bedroom, it still may be consuming more energy than you think. A study done by Cornell University found that a similar size LCD monitor compared to a CRT monitor used nearly 69 percent less energy (25 watts (LCD) vs. 80 watts (CRT)), including 40 percent less when in stand-by mode. With the energy difference in mind, it might be the last evidence you need to justify buying a new TV for the bedroom.

A more everyday example that might not be considered as often is batteries. Batteries power all of our portable devices, and without them, we are powerless to use them -- quite literally. Standard alkaline batteries may last a long time, but we constantly need a supply of them on hand and they can be expensive. When you stop to add up how many AA or AAA batteries a standard home uses (all those remote controls, wireless keyboards, mice and game controllers, not to mention the loud toys for the little ones), the hidden cost of replacement batteries can surprise you. Luckily, there's a solution that's more efficient and costs less over time. Rechargeable battery technology has improved in the last five years that gets rid of many of the questions of using rechargeables.

One example of these batteries is the 'eneloop,' a pre-charged rechargeable battery that you can use out of the package and recharge up to 1,500 times, made by SANYO. It also keeps its charge, up to 85 percent after two years of non-use. Because the eneloop is ready to use and has low self-discharge (meaning that it holds its charge for a long period of time), they are more appealing and more cost-effective than ever before. If they are able to meet the demands of our remotes and alarm clocks, the only thing that holds us back is either not acknowledging the hidden costs associated with our portable power needs or our lack of awareness of the new technology that could save us money in the long run and lower the total cost of ownership of our favorite portable devices. We know rechargeable batteries are convenient for our cell phones, music players and readers, but we don't usually stop to think about them for other everyday items.
When we become aware of hidden costs and how they affect our pocketbooks over time, we become smarter consumers and realize that a little up front investment can often mean less money paid out over time, saving us more money to buy the things we want.
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