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UK Carbon Emissions Target On Standby For Disaster

The growth in home devices and appliances is threatening the 2020 carbon reduction targets

Booming sales in electronic gadgets are threatening the 2020 target of a 34 percent reduction in domestic appliance carbon emissions, unless we take further action now.

This is the conclusion reached by a report from the Energy Saving Trust. The Elephant in the Living Room: how our appliances and gadgets are trampling the green dream trumpets the fact that our desire for energy-consuming gadgets is growing, despite rising prices for energy and economic constraints.

New Products Sapping More Power

“In this tumultuous period we have welcomed many new electronic goods into our homes, as the publishing and entertainment industries (as well as others) morph almost weekly into new technological forms,” the report observed. “Our hunger for smartphones and tablet computers, games consoles and e-readers, giant fridges and large washing machines, seems to trump even uncertain employment and shrinking disposable incomes.”

Almost a third (29 percent) of the UK’s CO2 emissions come from home appliances and a reduction in this area could make a difference to the UK’s ability to meet its 2020 target, the analysts claim.

The Elephant in the Living Room is a follow-on to a 2006 study by the Trust: The Rise of the Machines. Overall the new report finds an improved situation created by standards and legislation, such as banning patio heaters and incandescent light bulbs. But computers and peripherals such as printers have been adding greatly to the nation’s electricity bills. Often these machines, plus TVs and video recorders, are left on stand-by when not being used.

Despite the International Energy Agency (IEA) “1-Watt Plan” initiative, launched over ten years ago, the standby power of many computers still exceeds this amount. But the initiative has had some impact.

“Energy use in several historically high-consuming product areas (like lighting and refrigeration) is beginning to show a marked downward trend, and predictions of how things could have looked in 2020 are less pessimistic than they were a few years ago,” the study said.

With mobility, some of the energy consumption that would have been attributed to industrial use has shifted to the domestic area.

The report concludes: “In short, it is time for us to get rid of the elephant that’s sitting inside our living rooms.”