Category Archives: Cell Phone

In Case You Missed It: Vol. 1

Each and every day we come across some very interesting goodies on the World Wide Web. Each week we will compile our favorites right here so you can share in some of that goodness. Here is Volume 1 for your viewing pleasure!

  1. Terracycle – we did a spotlight (found here) on this wonderful company recently and love what they are doing. They are signing people up to collect anything from pens to juice boxes to candy wrappers to cork to cell phones to key boards and back again. They pay for you to ship it to them and then they “upcycle it” (turn it into a cool new product or material). For example here is a large tote bag made entirely from used Capri Sun drink pouches and here is a short video with the founder and CEO of Terracycle, Tom Szaky.
  2. PlanetSolar- The logbook of the crew with the goal to be the “first to circumnavigate the globe in a “solar” boat, i.e. one driven by a silent, pollution-free electrical engine powered exclusively by solar energy.”

    PlanetSolar team navigating near Monaco

  3. Solar Power is not just for your roof anymore. Within the next five years expect to see it popping up in your siding, windows, walls, and more. Installed building integrated photovoltaic technology is predicted to exceed 1 gigawatt by 2016.
  4. Solar Roadways – An awesome documentary clip explaining the research and development of solar roadways. I encourage you all to watch!
  5. And finally, in light of the recent success of The Muppets…

    Kermit the Frog reminds us all to "be green" and recycle!

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Filed under Carbon Footprint, Cell Phone, Conservation, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, NAHB, Recycled Materials, Renewable Energy, Solar, Upcycle

Vampire Power is Here to Stay

The phrase “vampire power” is becoming common language in the eco-friendly community and we are out to decipher what it actually means and give you some advice on how to prevent vampire power and save some easy money in the process.

Vampire or standby power is the electricity that devices use when they are plugged in and not actively turned on or in use. According to Standby Power, “an individual product draws relatively little standby power but a typical American home has forty products constantly drawing power. Together these amount to almost 10% of residential electricity use.” For example, most people have cell phone chargers that they leave plugged into their wall 24 hours a day. When the phone is not actually plugged in and charging, that charger is using, on average .26 watts. That is not a lot of energy by itself but if a household has 20-40 items that are always plugged in and drawing some power, it adds up. To put it into an even larger perspective, on a national basis, standby power accounts for more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs (EnergyStar.gov).

From a business perspective, we wanted to use some of this information to save some money off our bottom line. By investigating and doing some of our own research we found that each workstation in the office accounts for around $38.00/year* in electricity used while in standby mode. Multiply that by how many people in the office and the savings add up, and think of all the wasted energy being used when no one is even at the office.

The TrickleStar PowerTap

In order to reduce the amount of standby power you consume, there are many options. One way would be to unplug all of your appliances, electronics, and chargers when you are not actively using them. This would work and is free but seems to be a massively inefficient use of your time. Another option is getting a basic power strip/surge protector with an on/off switch. When you are finished in your office or with the entertainment system you can switch off the power strip and now these devices will be immune from the bite of vampire power. Another, more modern option is to make a small investment into a smart power strip (We like the TrickleStar Powertap and the EcoStrip; they claim you can save up to $100/year on each computer and they plant a tree for every EcoStrip sold).  The smart power strip does what a basic strip does automatically. It senses when you turn off the main device (ie. TV or computer) then it shuts off the power to all the peripheral devices plugged into that power strip (DVD player, game device, sound system, monitor, printer, speakers, etc.).

The EcoStrip

Also, when buying new products, be sure to look for the EnergyStar rating as these products are some of the lowest rated standby power users (meaning they use minimal power when in standby mode). In addition to buying smart, when using a computer or TV make sure to enable the EnergyStar power management settings so they go into power saving mode when not in use.

All in all, these are some relatively small and inexpensive steps each and every one of us can take in order to save energy, money, and reduce our carbon footprint. Happy savings!

-Todd

*Estimated that the average workstation is in standby mode for 6,735 hours per year (employee “out of the office”). We used power use data on an average Desktop computer, monitor, fax machine, and printer in sleep mode and based our calculations on $0.19/kWh electric rate.

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Filed under Carbon Footprint, Cell Phone, Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Innovation

K3 Wind and Solar Charger

This blog post features a new product we have been messing around with at the office for the past few weeks. I will give you a quick review of our experience with the K3 Wind and Solar Portable Device Charger.

The K3 Charger sun-bathing

The first thing I noticed was the K3 is very easy to operate; just set it out in the sun during the day and let the elements do all the work. When you need a charge on your device and do not have your wall charger with you or you are away from an outlet you simply pull the cord out of the built-in storage area, then plug into the USB port on the charger, finally plug in the correct tip to your phone and watch as your device charges up (according to the instructions you are supposed to give it a full charge from the wall first).
According the the K3 website, the charger is “ideal for mobile phones, iPods/mp3 players, iPhone, smartphones/PDAs, portable gaming devices, GPS units, digital cameras, Bluetooth headsets, and more.” I intend to use mine mostly as a supplemental charge for my cell phone.
The design of the K3 allows you to prop it in many different posistions to take advantage of the the angle of the sun. I also found a good way to put the K3 in the back window of my car. I drive with the windows down most of the time so the wind turbine can work on my commute.

Propped up to take advantage of the sun-angle.

One negative thing that I accidentally found out  was when I made the mistake of falling asleep with my phone plugged in to the charger and woke up to a dead battery in th K3. This made me use the wall charger once again to refill the K3, thus eliminating the benefits of using the sun to power my cell phone. I also figured out that if I want a good charge from the K3, it needs to be fully charged from the sun, wind, or wall before plugging it into your device. I tried to charge my phone with a half full battery in the K3 and it didn’t last very long.

The K3 Charging a Phone.

Overall, I recommend the K3 Charger as a good, quality, portable mobile device charger. I can’t wait to take it with me on my next camping trip – I’ll no longer have to worry about conserving my cell phone battery!
Amazon page featuring the K3.

Positives: Durable, Wind AND Solar, USB port and multiple tip options, LED lights show battery life, Looks cool(there is also a black color option), Unique
Negatives: A little bulky, takes more time to charge than expected, relatively short phone charging time.
Ideal Uses: Camping, car travel, take it to work for that “mid-day boost,” backpacking, etc…

Two color options for the charger.

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Filed under Carbon Footprint, Cell Phone, Cell Phone Battery, Conservation, Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environment, Green Technology, Innovation, Outdoor Adventure, Parks, Renewable Energy, Solar, Uncategorized