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Save Money and Energy

Electronic gadgets often top wish lists this time of year, as we dream of bigger screens and faster connections. But upgrading can come at a price -- and not just the one you see on your Visa bill. 

Products vary widely by the energy they consume, so the high-tech items you give or receive this season can impact your electricity use (not to mention carbon footprint) year-round. By making smart choices now, you'll potentially save hundreds of dollars over the life of the electronics. 

On average, we spend about $100 per month on our electric bills, with some gadgets clearly hogging the most energy from the grid. Televisions with plasma screens, for instance, gobble up more than four times the electricity of LCD models. TVs larger than 40 inches also boost the amount of juice you use. A desktop computer with a monitor consumes three times the energy that a laptop uses. Many products, such as a digital cable box, are designed to receive input at any time -- meaning they use energy 24/7, even when switched to off or standby mode.

Before you head out to the store, consult this chart for the yearly utility cost and carbon use of the most popular electronics. By making smarter choices, you can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and help save energy -- gifts that keep giving long after Santa Claus has clambered back up the chimney.

Music
MP3 player: 6 kilowatt hours
$0.66 per year
10 pounds of carbon dioxide
Stereo: 120 kilowatt hours
$13.20 per year
206 pounds of carbon dioxide
Savings with MP3 player: $12.54 and 196 pounds of CO2

Cable
Satellite:
124 kilowatt hours
$13.64 per year
213 pounds of carbon dioxide
Digital: 239 kilowatt hours
$26.29 per year
410 pounds of carbon dioxide
Savings with satellite: $12.65 and 197 pounds of CO2

Computer
Laptop: 83 kilowatt hours
$9.13 per year
142 pounds of carbon dioxide
Desktop: 255 kilowatt hours
$28.05 per year
437 pounds of carbon dioxide
Savings with laptop: $18.92 and 295 pounds of CO2

Phone
Cellular: 3 kilowatt hours
$0.33 per year
5 pounds of carbon dioxide
Cordless: 26 kilowatt hours
$2.86 per year
45 pounds of carbon dioxide
Savings with cellular: $2.53 and 40 pounds of CO2

Television*
LCD: 77 kilowatt hours
$8.47 per year
132 pounds of carbon dioxide
Plasma: 441 kilowatt hours
$48.51 per year
756 pounds of carbon dioxide
Savings with LCD: $40.04 and 624 pounds of CO2

National estimates come from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, the Energy Information Administration, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

*Figures are based on screens 40 inches or less.

Text by Elizabeth Kemper French

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