Electronic gear can be greener than you think, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
Your guide to the best eco- friendly gadgets.
AUSTRALIANS have a voracious appetite for technology. Last year more than 15.7 million electronic devices were snapped up, according to GfK Retail and Technology, before counting mobile phone purchases.
While such power- hungry products may appear environmentally unfriendly, experts argue that these gadgets can be green. Electronics can be powered in eco- friendly ways, they say, used more efficiently and sometimes even be used to help save the environment.
Here is a guide to ensure your gadget is green as it can be.
Australia has embraced tablet computers in their millions, with research firm Telsyte predicting consumers will buy more than two million tablets this year. These products can be used to replace paper, Do Something founder Jon Dee asserts.
The environmental campaigner will not accept paper handed to him, instead asking for digital files to be sent to his Apple iPad.
‘‘ Since the iPad has come out, printing and paper use has gone down in Australia,’’ Dee says. ‘‘ People used to say a paperless office would never happen but . . . paper use has gone down a lot recently and the iPad has played a key role in that.’’
Dee points to local councils which now email documents to staff on tablets rather than print and distribute them.
Qantas also will start distributing iPads to its Boeing 737 pilots to replace substantial flight manuals.
More than 2200 64GB tablets will be rolled out during the program, offering digital access to flight plans, manuals, charts and forms. The tablets will replace more than 18,000 pieces of paper printed every day by the airline.
Australia is finally cashing in on its brightest asset, with figures released last week showing we led the
world in erecting solar panels last year.
About 392,500 solar systems were installed on Australian homes in 2011, producing 785 megawatts of power, according to the Clean Energy Regulator.
The figures mean more than four million Australians live in homes that produce power from the sun and helped the country beat Japan and Germany in the solar power installation stakes.
While the country still produces less solar energy than world leaders, including the US and China, REC Agents Association president Ric Brazzale says the achievement shows individuals are embracing the technology.
Several issues led to this achievement, Dee says, including government subsidies, rising electricity prices and the price of solar technology panels that fell ‘‘ 80 per cent in the last 18 months’’. ‘‘ With consumers there are two issues,’’ he says.
‘‘ One: The price has come down dramatically so it’s now within reach. Two: People want to bring their electricity bills under control and there’s no better way than to generate it yourself. No one can tax the sun and solar power is available using technology that now exists.’’
NO MORE STANDBY POWER
Also known as ‘‘ vampire power’’ and ‘‘ phantom load,’’ standby power is the electricity used by devices when they’re plugged into a power point but not actually turned on and in use.
A 2005 government study of 120 Australian homes found standby power made up more than 10 per cent of a household’s electricity use – costing more than $ 950 million that year.
It’s waste that can be avoided with smart powerboards and plugs. Companies including Belkin, EmberTec and Eco- Switch produce products that let users stop products drawing more power than necessary
with a switch.