Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Wants To Help You Reduce Standby Power and Vampire Draw

Lawrence Berkeley National Labs Standby Power and Vampire Draw DataLawrence Berkeley National Laboratories resource for calculating standby power and vampire draw is not new but the information never gets old. Standby power is the power consumed by an appliance when it is turned off and vampire draw refers to charged devices, like cellphones, that continue to consume electricity when fully charged. It’s amazing how much energy is consumed by all of the devices in our homes that are not in use. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory offers clues to easily identify those items:

  • Includes remote control
  • Has external power supply
  • Digital display, LED status light, or digital clock
  • Contains a battery charger
  • Has soft-touch key-pad

According to LBNL’s FAQ, standby power and vampire draw accounts for 5 – 10% of the electricity we consume. They also point out that with some changes, this could be reduced by 75% .

I’d swear the set-top box DVR for cable tv and satellite was developed by electric companies; it’s the only device I found in the list that consumes nearly as much electricity OFF as it does ON. One of the easy solutions suggested for reducing standby power and vampire draw is the use of power strips because they allow you to disconnect multiple devices at one time.

You probably do not have to get all freakish about reducing standby power and vampire draw; that would be my tendency. So we will re-post this article every 6 months and hopefully each time, you’ll find one area that you can make a change and reduce your consumption.


What Is More Jubbling – Hand Washing Or Electric Dishwasher?

Hand Washing vs Electric DishwasherAs part of my daily Jubbling effort, I decided to avoid using the dishwasher in favor of hand washing all dishes. For some reason, nobody argued with me as I struggled to clean every dish in the sink for half of 2010. Yes, we still did use the dishwasher but only about twice a month thanks to my manual decision.

Then I made a bet about what was more Jubbling and searched out the answer. I soon discovered that I was wrong [again]. Outside of me washing the dishes by the river, the new Energy Star rated dishwashers are more efficient than I ever could be hand washing. It’s estimated that a dishwasher will use anywhere from 4 – 6 gallons of water to wash a load of dishes and hand washing the equivalent load could use up to 27 gallons of hot water. Now I could get into the math of kilowatt hours of energy consumed by an electric dishwasher versus hand washing or I could tap into some rain barrel water to make my case but ultimately, I was wrong.

I still recommend hand washing some items like large bowls or pans that would take up a significant amount of dishwasher space and I never hesitate to rinse a dish for its next use if it held something dry like crackers or milk-less cereal. Maybe it’s not 100% sanitary but with my kids, who sometimes carry loose change in their mouth, it’s not that big of a deal.


Electricity-Free Nights?

We lost our electricity last week due to the major snow dump, all 4-inches of it, that hit our area and knocked out power for 1 to 5 days. Our outage lasted about 36 hours but from it, we not only gained a greater appreciation for electricity but we also discovered how nice it is to sometimes go without it.

As our second night without power approached, we lit candles that were scattered around the house and then we all crowded around the fireplace. We broke out some games but mostly, we just told stories. My kids talked about favorite holiday and vacation experiences, my wife talked about past boyfriends (ones that got away) and my stories focused on the many stupid things I’ve done. It was great and the phone and television never had a chance to interrupt us. We talked for hours and then around 8 pm, our power came back on. We all kind of paused and then said what everyone says when the power comes back on: “Electricity!” That’s when my daughter commented: “I guess we’re going to stop telling stories now.” We didn’t stop telling stories. Instead, we ran around the house and turned everything off and for the benefit of everyone present, I finished my jubbling-rap by candlelight. We were all relieved that we regained electricity but the fun came from not using it.

I’m definitely not the first person to recommend having electricity-free nights. The idea has been floated around as a way to bring families together and to consume less power. But I am one of the latest believers in the idea and I encourage others to not wait for the next power outage to experience it.


US Agencies Toughen Up Energy Star Standards After Embarrassing Lapses

This article originally appeared at, and is reprinted with permission.

From April 16, 2010 – James Murray, – Undercover investigators gain Energy Star accreditation for phony gas-powered alarm clock.

The US Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy this week announced emergency measures to tighten the procedures governing the award of Energy Star certification after undercover investigators revealed the current system was so flawed that made up products were able to attain accreditation.

Energy StarAccording to a report released late last month, investigators with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) were able to obtain Energy Star accreditation for 15 out of 20 fake products that they submitted under the energy efficiency labeling scheme.

The phony products included a gas-powered alarm clock and a “room air cleaner “, which was displayed in mocked up photos showing an electric space heater with a feather duster attached to it.

The GAO report, which was commissioned by Republican Senator Susan Collins, said the practice of approving products based on energy savings data presented by manufacturers themselves left the scheme “vulnerable to fraud and abuse”.

The agencies responsible for the scheme moved this week to address the issue, announcing that effective immediately all manufacturers applying for Energy Star certification would have to submit complete lab reports and results for review and approval by EPA prior to labeling.

The tightened procedure replaces the previous automated approval process that would dish out certification to any product that appeared to meet the necessary criteria.

Gina McCarthy, EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, said the new rules would help to restore confidence in the scheme. “The safeguards we’re putting into effect are essential for the millions of consumers who rely on Energy Star products to help save energy, money and the environment,” she said.

The EPA added that the approval process would be further tightened at the end of the year when new rules will be introduced requiring all manufacturers to submit test results from an approved, accredited lab for any product seeking the Energy Star label.

However, it remains to be seen if the crack down will help restore the scheme’s badly bruised credibility.

The Energy Star scheme covers a huge range of products, including white goods, computers and building materials, and is meant to promote products that are between 10 and 25 per cent more efficient than minimum federal standards.

But it has been widely criticized over the years for failing to adequately police the scheme and update standards as technologies improve – a scenario that in some cases has seen Energy Star labels carried by virtually every product in a market.

The EPA launched a crack down on products that should not be carrying the label at the start of the year, claiming its first victim when LG was ordered to stop using the label on a number of fridges that failed to meet required energy efficiency standards in independent tests.

But the reforms did not come quick enough to halt the latest embarrassing revelations and the EPA is likely to require much more widespread testing if it wants to restore confidence in the scheme.


Google Leads Coalition Urging Obama To Support Universal Smart Meters

This article originally appeared at, and is reprinted with permission.

April 6, 2010 – James Murray, – A group of over 45 energy, investment and IT firms, as well as a number of green NGOs have joined forces this week to call on US president Barack Obama to explicitly support the roll out of advanced smart meter technologies for every household and business in the US.

In an open letter to the president orchestrated by the Climate Group and backed by a host of big name technology and energy firms, such as Google, AT &T, Intel, GE, HP and Verizon, the coalition asks the administration to ” adopt the goal of giving every household and business access to timely, useful and actionable information on their energy use”.

“By giving people the ability to monitor and manage their energy consumption, for instance, via their computers, phones or other devices, we can unleash the forces of innovation in homes and businesses,” states the letter. “At the same time, we can harness the power of millions of people to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and save consumers billions of dollars.”

Specifically, the group recommends that the administration launch a White House-led research programme to work out the best way of providing consumers and businesses with energy use information, while establishing effective privacy rules.

It also called for the administration to direct federal agencies to ensure that the availability of energy data forms part of a wide range of existing low carbon and energy projects, such as Obama’s home weatherisation, energy efficiency grants, appliance standards, home and commercial building programs, and clean tech R&D funding programmes.

The group added that there was a strong commercial case for supporting the roll out of smart meters and smart appliances capable of automatically turning off when not in use, noting that studies have shown they can help to cut household energy use by around 15 per cent.

Writing on Google’s official blog, the company’s Energy Policy Counsel Michael Terrell said that the group, which hosted its first event in Washington DC yesterday, would now work together to develop policy proposals that could help improve the availability of energy use data.

Most of the companies signed up to the group have a vested interest in the development of new smart meter and smart appliance technologies, with Google, for example, investing heavily in its recently launched PowerMeter online toolset.

The Obama administration has repeatedly signaled its support for smart grid technologies, earmarking large chunks of the stimulus package for investment in large-scale smart grid trials. However, the president has stopped short of emulating a number of European governments by setting a target date for the universal roll out of smart meters.

Jubbling’s Take: Having real-time access to your homes energy consumption is the equivalent of having a speedometer in your car. We consider this a Jubbling no-brainer.


HOMESTAR Energy Efficiency Starts Cash For Caulkers Program

HOMESTAR and HomestarrunnerHOMESTAR was initiated by President Obama in November 2009 to encourage and incentivize the acceptance of energy efficient products and services in order to “jumpstart” the US economy. HOMESTAR is targeted towards middle class families and its latest addition, “Cash-for-Caulkers” was setup to reward homeowners for improving their home’s energy efficiency. Cash-for-Caulkers is drawn from the same family as Cash-for-Clunkers and is based on the same Jubbling principles of reducing energy consumption and in turn, reducing our need for oil. HOMESTAR’s hope is that by participating in the Cash-for-Caulkers program, homeowners can save $200-500 per year in energy costs, increase the value of their homes and help create needed jobs for installers and government oversight.

Here are the basics: []

  • $1,000 – $1,500 Silver Star Rebates: Consumers looking to have simple upgrades performed in their homes would be eligible for 50% rebates up to $1,000 – $1,500 for doing any of a straightforward set of upgrades, including: insulation, duct sealing, water heaters, HVAC units, windows, roofing and doors.
  • $3000 Gold Star Rebates: Consumers interested in more comprehensive energy retrofits would be eligible for a $3,000 rebate for a whole home energy audit and subsequent retrofit tailored to achieve a 20% energy savings in their homes.
  • Oversight to Ensure Quality Installations: Independent quality assurance providers would conduct field audits after work is completed to ensure proper installation so consumers receive energy savings from their upgrades.
  • Support for financing: The program would include support to State and local governments to provide financing options for consumers seeking to make efficiency investments in their homes.
  • We don’t want to be left behind at Jubbling and that is why we put together a few ideas for future consideration by HOMESTAR and actually put it in a letter. HOMESTAR sure likes the money references so we’ll stick with that theme for now:

    Jubbling suggestions for future HOMESTAR programs

    But no matter how you approach it, the federal government is going to have some oversight which translates to red tape, bureaucracy and dampens the Jubbling. So instead of giving them ideas to use on us, now might be a great opportunity for us to pass some ideas to the government on ways they can cut back and be more Jubbling. We’ll start with Air Force One. That whole flyover of Manhattan thing is a perfect example of unnecessary waste. Maybe we should ground Air Force One and President Obama could tell foreign leaders to come over here if they want to meet with him or they could just Skype each other. If they do decide to fly here, security shouldn’t be an issue because most people in the US wouldn’t recognize these world leaders anyway. But back to HOMESTAR.

    I am very interested in how Cash-for-Caulkers works out and how future HOMESTAR programs perform. I am a little skeptical but ultimately, my hope is that they are successful because their intentions are Jubbling.