It doesn’t take a genius to work out that gadgets are more important today than for previous generations, but a recent report shows the impact this is having on the environment. Is it time to buy with efficiency in mind?
I’m not just talking about the newest must-haves like iPhones, tablets and ebook readers – though these are clearly popular in many homes. Even household staples like printers were relatively rare a decade ago – at least compared to today.
In fact, a recent report from the Energy Saving Trust (EST) reveals just how much our love of gadgets – and consequently our energy usage – has soared. There are 65 million home computing devices in British homes – and ‘peripherals’ like scanners and printers rose from 30 to 65 million between 2000 and 2009.
But that’s just the beginning. Between 1970 and 2009, electricity consumption by consumer electronics rose by over 600%. In fact, 29% of the UK’s emissions come from the home – a figure that rises to 47% when you add personal travel to the equation.
That’s probably enough shocking stats to paint a suitably dim picture of how our consumerist tendencies are growing. But are they really affecting the environment that much?
According to this report, yes. It says there’s an elephant in the room – and it’s a big green one. Not only is our ‘gadget addiction’ one of the reasons why our energy bills are rising, it’s apparently going to stop us from reaching our 2020 emissions target.
Manufacturers and retailers need to improve
There are some rays of light, though it seems that manufacturers and retailers have a lot of work to do. EST recommends that:
- Inefficient products are banned from shops – they cite the controversial banning of incandescent light bulbs as a good example.
- Voluntary agreements are made with retailers – such as an initiative where eight leading retailers agreed to remove the worst-performing TVs from their ranges.
- Better energy efficiency labelling is introduced – a clear, simple, index-linked indication that a product is “best in class”.
These all sound like sensible suggestions to help us buy the most energy efficient products we can. But, judging by the negative reaction we had on a previous Conversation about phasing out incandescent light bulbs, I can’t help but wonder if people will see some of these measures as limiting their choice rather than expanding it – nannying them, even?
Is energy-efficiency important to you?
Do you think that manufacturers and retailers have a role to play in helping us buy products that are truly energy efficient? Personally, I’d like to be better informed before I part with my cash, so any extra information has to be helpful.
In a rather timely coincidence we’ve just launched our new Energy Saver logo. It’s given to Best Buy products that meet our own energy-efficiency criteria and is designed to help you choose items that use less electricity.
Would that kind of label be enough to help you buy, or would you like to see the EST’s recommendations adopted too? Do you consider energy efficiency when you’re buying a new gadget – or are other factors more important?