GREEN MA­CHINES

Elec­tronic gear can be greener than you think, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

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.

PAPER­LESS SO­CI­ETY

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.

NEW EN­ERGY

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.

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