Understanding the environmental impact of your toaster

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14 Responses to “Understanding the environmental impact of your toaster”

  1. Red Leatherman says:

    All the little changes we make can add up for sure but the most cost effective update is to spend some money on something that heats water efficiently.

  2. nox says:

    but plug load (in the United States, anyway) is all voluntary.

    I’m sorry. You shouldn’t be allowed to say that on the Internet.

  3. getjustin says:

    Hell, my laser printer dims the lights in half the apartment when it fires up. Neighbors must think we’re executing animals or something.

    • bcsizemo says:

      Not using an old HP 4L are we? The one I used to have did the same thing. And while it was “on” it would power cycle every 30 secs or so and you could see the lights dim.

      And actually my toaster has zero standby power, as it is a cheap $5 Target special that is all mechanical and works great.

      Perhaps if more electronics had non-volitale memory to store settings I’d be more willing to unplug them, or install a bypass switch….

  4. dculberson says:

    “but plug load” heh heh.. heh.

    Seriously, though, coffee makers might consume as much power as a small space heater while the heating element is running, but it takes ~6 minutes to brew a pot of coffee whereas a space heater would be running for a lot more time than that. So eliminating a coffee maker would not save as much power as eliminating the space heater. Ditto the hair dryer.

  5. Gloria says:

    “As does the realization that hair driers and coffee machines use electricity at about the same rate as a space heater.”

    Sort of common sense, certainly?

    If you’re boiling water or blasting your head with *hot air*, I would hope that people have an inkling that it’s pretty much just a fancy space heater. They all make heat; some of them simply reapply/redirect it for a particular purpose.

    I gave up blow-drying my hair a while back and now just air-dry it on the way to work … but not really out of a sense of environmentalism. I just wanted to sleep in longer :P

  6. HarveyBoing says:

    The thing is, for roughly half the year in most places, the energy required to create the heat isn’t wasted. It’s offset by the energy that wasn’t used for the furnace to provide the same amount of heat to the living space.

    For some things, like hair dryers, there’s still a bit of extra energy used for moving things around (like the fan in the hair dryer), but a toaster oven is practically all heat. If you’re in the heating season, the energy usage is basically net zero-sum.

    An analysis that doesn’t take that into account is fundamentally flawed.

    • dalesd says:

      Except that my furnace is 97% efficient, whereas burning coal to generate electricity and transmit it to my house is <60% efficient, and more expensive.

  7. wiredfool says:

    Is that a metric or english but load?

  8. complicatedcrustation says:

    I plug all these types of energy hogs into power strips and turn them off when not in use. This includes everything from the computer and router to the toaster. Not only did my electric bill go down by over %40 (!!!) but now I don’t feel like a stupid a**hole.

  9. adam says:

    “After all, we have building regulations that mandate energy efficiency, but plug load (in the United States, anyway) is all voluntary.”

    Not entirely true. The California Energy Commission adopted regulations limiting the maximum power consumption of televisions last year (and are slated to go into effect 1/1/11). See http://www.energy.ca.gov/appliances/2009_tvregs/index.html.

    I don’t know, but I suspect that the CEC has other plug-load requirements. In California certain types of light bulbs aren’t permitted in certain locations, for example.

  10. Aloisius says:

    As does the realization that hair driers and coffee machines use electricity at about the same rate as a space heater

    In shocking related news, irons, water heaters, clothes dryers, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, microwave ovens, pool pumps, refrigerators, electric ranges, electric hot tub heaters, well pumps and toasters also draw a lot of power.

    I know what you’re all thinking… why would heating stuff up, cooling stuff down or moving stuff around use so much energy? Unfortunately, science doesn’t have any answers The mystery may never be solved.

  11. Sam says:

    It actually isn’t hard to get from how much power you are saving to a pounds of CO2 prevented number. The DOE keeps data on the lbs of CO2/kWh for each state, based on that state’s actual energy mix. Now, there is some variability even within states, but it gets you pretty close to your local mix.

    DOE state by state emissions profile:
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oiaf/1605/cdrom/pdf/e-supdoc.pdf
    (This is from 1998-2000 data, a bit old. Bonus points for finding newer data sets, but major power plant distribution has not changed much this last decade)

    Colorado, for instance, has a 1.93lbs/kwh rate. If I change a regular bulb for a CFL then here is how much CO2 I prevent the release of per year:

    Incandescent: 60W * 8 hrs/day * 365 days/year = 175kWhs * 1.93lbs = 338lbs of CO2
    CFL: 13W * 8 hrs/day * 365 days/year = 38kWhs * 1.93 = 73lbs of CO2, a 265 lb/year reduction in my CO2 output!

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