Earth Day: Ways to save energy using technology - WPSD Local 6: Your news, weather, and sports authority

Earth Day: Ways to save energy using technology

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Friday is Earth Day, and technology can help save energy and be environmentally responsible.

New solar gadgets use the sun to power devices we use every day. Eton's Rukus speaker uses a solar panel to pump out your favorite tunes without needing USB cables or power. The Rukus Solar stays charged when it is in the sun and is powerful enough to charge a smartphone while playing the music. Nomad Goal Zero Solar Panel is about the size of a paperback book and has a fold­out solar panel that grabs the sun to charge smartphones and tablets.

Nomad has larger solar panels that can charge refrigerators or provide backup power. Blue Line Innovations makes devices to help homeowners see how much electricity they are using. The PowerCost monitor connects to a home's electric meter and measures how much electricity is being used. The device connects to another device and a smartphone for readouts. The PowerCost Monitor can also show the homeowner which appliance is using the most energy.

Computer users often ask: Is it best to turn off my computer when I go to bed or leave the office? The answer depends on whom you ask.

The Department of Energy suggests turning off the computer any time it is not being used for more than two hours. However, some experts believe turning off and on a computer frequently puts stress on the moving parts inside the computer. As with most machines, starting and stopping will affect moving parts, which are more likely to break when they are starting.

That is a controversial question, and experts will disagree on the answer. The Department of Energy suggests any risk of a computer crashing due to the starting and stopping of those moving parts is less than some experts believe. It also suggests that advances in technology ends the useful life of a computer before the computer breaks. Generally, it suggests every 5­7 years.

Other experts disagree, saying computers should last longer than seven years and point to statistics that show nearly 52 million computers are thrown away each year, which contributes more trash to landfills.

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