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Gaming for green: Shop smart for electronics

Posted in Electronics, Energy conservation on December 7th, 2012 by Susan – Be the first to comment
Gaming for green graphic

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Getting new games for Christmas? Hoping for a tablet or TV under the tree?

You’ll save on your electric bill by purchasing products with the ENERGY STAR label. And once you have them at home, you’ll save even more by remembering to turn them off when not in use.

Much of the electricity used by home electronic equipment is consumed when the products are turned off. That’s because they’re not really “off” – they’re in standby mode, using electricity to power features like clocks, remote controls and channel/station memory.

ENERGY STAR qualified home electronics products in the “off” position use up to 50 percent less energy than conventional equipment, without sacrificing any important features. You save on your energy bills and reduce energy waste.

You can find the ENERGY STAR label on all types of electronics products:

• TVs
• VCRs/DVDs
• Stereos
• Set-top boxes (such as cable boxes, satellite receivers, Internet access devices and video game consoles)
• Telephone products (such as cordless phones, answering machines and combination units)
• Home office equipment (computer, monitor, printer and fax machine)

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average home has one DVD player, three phones and two televisions. Televisions are typically larger, in use more hours each day, and offer more vibrant pictures and advanced features than ever before. Three factors influence the increased amount of energy consumed by televisions: screen size, resolution, and display technology. A useful rule of thumb is that power consumption is around one third of a watt per square inch of screen area. Thus a 42-inch TV will use around 70 percent more power than a 32-inch one. 

EPA’s ENERGY STAR specification for televisions establishes stringent requirements for energy use. Televisions that earn the ENERGY STAR are up to 30 percent more efficient than standard models by saving energy while they are on and when they are off.

The current generation of gaming consoles is represented by the Microsoft XBox 360, Sony Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii. Because these devices can be switched on for long periods, the electricity cost of using them can add up. During play, the XBox 360 uses 180 watts; PS3, 190 watts, and the Wii, only 18 watts. In standby mode, all three use only 2 watts of power.

Bottom line: Look for the ENERGY STAR label when shopping for electronics. And remember to turn electronics off when not in use.

A helpful brochure from ENERGY STAR  is available here.

Recycle for free on March 31

Posted in Recycling on March 19th, 2012 by Susan – Be the first to comment

Photo of recycling signChelan County residents can recycle metal, batteries and some appliances for free on Saturday, March 31. Organizers are warning that this may be the last county-wide event, so gather up your recyclables and head to one of several locations.

A list of locations, hours of operation and acceptable items is available here.

A $20 fee will be charged for appliances that contain or once contained freon. All other metal is free for disposal.

Questions? Wenatchee residents can call (509) 888-3260. County residents should call (509) 667-6415.

Welcome to the House of Savings

Posted in Appliances, Electronics, Energy conservation, Heating and cooling, Lighting on August 14th, 2009 by Susan – Be the first to comment

houseofsavings_lightly1Need help finding energy savings in your home? Step into the House of Savings and reduce your energy bill.

The House of Savings is a new interactive feature on Chelan County PUD’s Conservation Web page. Place your mouse over a feature in the house and a pop-up box provides tips on saving energy and money. Hover over the thermostat, for example, and you’ll learn that for every degree you set your thermostat lower (or higher for summer cooling) you can reduce your power bill by 2 percent. The items also contain links to related information.

The house is a collaborative effort of  technology, graphics and conservation staff at the PUD. Come on in!

He’s in the recycling hall of fame

Posted in Recycling on April 2nd, 2009 by Susan – Be the first to comment
Scott Beaton

Scott Beaton

Scott Beaton has spent most of his adult life sorting, crushing, shoveling, lifting, baling and trucking what used to be called garbage. Now, 21 years after starting a small nonprofit recycling project in Chelan, he’s being inducted May 5 into the Washington State Recycling Association Hall of Fame. 

While this is his first statewide honor, Beaton is well known locally. For seven years he was a weekly guest on KOZI radio, talking trash — or what shouldn’t go in the trash. He’s an original member of the nonprofit Community Services Work Group, which hosts an annual Earth Day Fair and started the North Chelan County Recycling Project.

The recycling center is the oldest and most extensive recycling operation in Chelan County. Located across the highway from the Chelan Wal-Mart, it doesn’t look like much — just a boxy shell of a building holding rows and rows of old wooden apple bins overflowing with old pickle jars and vodka bottles, crushed milk jugs, discarded cereal boxes and school math tests. It doesn’t smell too great either – a mixture of day-old garbage, stale beer and applesauce (possibly owing to the apple bins).

Sorted glass awaits the crusher at the North Chelan County Recycling Project.

Sorted glass awaits the crusher at the North Chelan County Recycling Project.

“It’s never been an easy job,” Beaton said. “There’s a lot of cleanup. It’s physical work. You get a real workout.”

Beaton runs the center with help from two full-time and two part-time staff. When the recycling project began, Beaton was a volunteer working with others from the Community Services group. A state Department of Ecology grant in 1989 provided the money to build a full-fledged center.  When the grant ran out, the city of Chelan took over.

“The idea behind the program was to get a hunk out of the waste stream,” Beaton said. “And because we got help from the city and county, we’ve been able to do it in a dependable, consistent way.”

The center is open Tuesday through Saturday and accepts newspapers, magazines, glass, aluminum, copper, brass, tin cans, #1 and #2 plastics, milk and juice cartons, some plastic bags and shrink wrap. Drop boxes are available 24 hours a day in Chelan, Manson and Entiat.  Curbside recycling is offered to businesses and schools.

The center accepts wood debris from orchards and construction sites which is chipped, then offered to the public for free. And it’s an E-Cycle Washington site, accepting computers, laptops, monitors and TVs.

The center processed 1,170 tons of recyclables in 2008. Beaton expects volume to dip by about 15 percent this year as consumers buy less—and throw away less.  Industry demand for recyclables – plastics that are made into new carpets, metals that go into new cars and cans – is down. “Prices have dropped 60 to 70 percent,” Beaton said, adding that he’s bracing for a “rough year.”

State and county grants continue to fund the program, and the city remains the sponsoring agency. Revenues from the sale of recyclables pay for about 70 percent of operational costs.

The recycling center and the Community Services Work Group bring information about recycling and conservation to the schools, sponsor an annual litter cleanup and metals drive, and host the Earth Day Fair which this year is on Saturday, April 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Riverwalk Park.

“I always felt like it had my name on it,” Beaton says of his commitment to reduce-reuse-recycle in Chelan. “I wanted to try to do the best job possible.”

Recycling questions? Call Scott Beaton at (509) 682-4663. Want to help at the Earth Day Fair? (509) 682-5756. Lend a hand with litter cleanup? (509) 682-5320

Old computers find new owners

Posted in Recycling on April 1st, 2008 by Susan – Be the first to comment
Joanne Knouf directs Community Technology, which refurbishes donated computers for low-income families

Joanne Knouf directs Community Technology, which refurbishes donated computers for low-income families

Computers once destined for the local landfill instead are being diverted to needy families in Chelan and Douglas counties.

Community Technology refurbishes old computers, then makes them available to low-income residents. The agency is located in the Community Action Center, 620 Lewis St., Wenatchee. Computers can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. There is no charge for dropping off an old computer, although Community Technology accepts donations.

Joanne Knouf, program director, said her staff tries to revitalize every donated computer, but those that can’t be salvaged are stripped of reusable parts. Any leftover scrap metal is recycled. Hard drives of 10 gigabytes or larger are reused, Knouf said, after they are wiped clean to federal Department of Defense standards. Smaller hard drives are destroyed.

It’s a small operation — the staff consists of Knouf, one volunteer, and three Skilsource students (including Matt Covert, at refurbished computer with new dual-language software, above right). The agency refurbished 187 computers in 2006 and 247 in 2007.

They can’t re-do Macs because they don’t have a license to reinstall Apple operating systems. The agency does, however, have a license from Microsoft that allows it to guarantee the operating systems in refurbished PCs as new.

Residents who want a re-tooled computer can call to apply: (509) 662-6156.  Applicants must meet low-income guidelines.

Community Technology also provides computer support and Web site maintenance to nonprofit agencies. Revenues from those projects help support the computer recycling effort.

Staples also accepts computers, monitors, printers and fax machines for recycling. There is a $10 charge for each unit. Staples also offers programs for recycling of ink and toner cartridges, cell phones, digital cameras and batteries. The Wenatchee store is located at 200 Ferry St. More information is available on the Staples Web site.

Office Depot recycles computers and related accessories, and electronics including digital cameras, telephones, cell phones and small televisions. The store sells boxes in which customers place their “tech trash.” A spokesman at the Wenatchee store, located at 915 N. Wenatchee Ave., said the cost of the box covers the cost of recycling. The fees are $5, $10 and $15. Cell phones, PDAs, rechargeable batteries and ink and toner cartridges can be recycled for free. Complete details are available on their web site.

Related links

Community Technology

Engineering a Tough Switch: Getting New Yorkers to Recycle Electronics (NY Times)