So, at the end of my gloomy post yesterday (yes, I was a little depressed) I said I’d write about some things we’ve done here at Chez Terry/Stoler to save energy. Most of it is either stuff you’ve probably heard a million times (use CFLs instead of incandescent bulbs, use a programmable thermostat, use cold water to wash clothes, open the drapes during the day and close them at night, turn off lights when leaving a room, turn off the computer at night and while out of the house.) Other measures are things I’ve already written about here: not owning a car and buying carbon offsets for the few times we travel by plane or Flexcar, buying very few new things in general and opting for products with the least packaging, buying as locally as possible to avoid transportation energy costs. Other things, like buying energy-saving appliances or renovating our house are not options for us because we rent.
Another energy-saving measure that I really like is an item that’s, ironically, made of plastic. Its the Smart Strip power strip from Bits Ltd.
The strip works for combinations of electronics that work together, like a computer system, or an entertainment system. You choose one electronic component as the Control and plug it into the blue Control outlet. Then, you plug other components that are useless if the control is off into the white Automatically Switched outlets. And finally, electronics that always need to be ready are plugged into the red Constant Hot outlets.
Here’s how I’ve done it in my living room. My combo receiver/DVD/CD player is the Control because without it on, I have no sound for the system, so nothing else needs to be on if that one is off. Then, my TV, VCR, turntable, and iPod dock are plugged into the Auto-Switch outlets. When I turn off the power button on the remote of my receiver/DVD/CD player, the power is cut to that and all the other components in the Auto-Switch outlets. And when I say cut, I mean like unplugging them all from the wall. When I press the power button on, the receiver/DVD/CD player turns on and power flows to the other components making them available to be used, but not actually turning them on.
Yes, we do have a lot of electronic equipment, I’m realizing as I write this list. And yes, it’s aaaaallllll plastic. But it’s plastic we bought before we became aware of plastic, and now that we have the Smart Strip, it’s plastic that’s rarely on. I pretty much watch movies and play the stereo on weekends, being way too busy during the rest of the week learning about plastic!
Anyway, after plugging in those components, I plug my lamp, my cable amplifier (because the cable is split and also comes into my computer), and my headphone charger into the Constant Hot outlets because I want them to be able to operate even if the rest of the system is off. The Smart Strip is easier than a regular power strip because you don’t have to remember to flip the switch. When you turn off the control device, everything else that needs to be off turns off too.
I also use a second Smart Strip for my computer system. This time, my monitor is plugged into the blue Control outlet. Why not the computer? Because if I leave the room for a few minutes, I want to be able to turn off the monitor and all the peripherals without having to turn off the computer completely. (It’ll go into Power Save mode on its own after a few minutes.) So I operate the computer separately. Anyway, the printer, speakers, and any other peripherals are plugged into the Auto-Switch outlets. My desk lamp is plugged into Constant Hot. When I leave the room, I turn off my monitor, and all the other peripherals shut down as well. When I leave the house or go to bed, I shut down the computer and turn off the monitor, and everything turns off.
Okay, so about the plastic. Yes, the Smart Strip is made from it. But one thing you can do to somewhat lessen the impact is to buy refurbished Smart Strips. Bits Ltd does repair and recycle any that they receive back. I had to wait a few weeks for mine because they didn’t have any in stock when I first called. The refurbished units cost less, but they seem to work just as well as new ones. I have been using mine for a couple of months now with no problems.
When ordering, I included a note to the company to please ship with no plastic or Styrofoam, and the strips arrived without any packaging at all except for the cardboard boxes they came in. I don’t know if there would have been packaging if I hadn’t asked.
So that’s my tip for this week that will culminate in the National Day of Climate Action on Saturday. And now I need your help.
What company makes CFLs that are not packaged in plastic? I know we can’t avoid the plastic in the body of the CFL itself. But I’d like not to have to deal with a crazy plastic nearly impossible to open blister pack again. Suggestions?