60-Second Earth

How Much Energy Do You Waste Charging Your Cell Phone?

Battery chargers are everywhere these days, wasting electricity. California aims to change that. David Biello reports

How many chargers do you own? One for your cell phone? Another for your laptop? Yet another for your tablet, podcast player or even electric toothbrush? It adds up.

If you've ever felt a charger when it's doing its job you know how warm they get. That's because they're inefficient: wasting electricity as heat as well as feeding the battery. But new standards recently adopted in California aim to change all that.

Earlier this month, the California Energy Commission voted to adopt minimum energy efficiency standards for these ubiquitous devices. The Golden State alone boasts 170 million such chargers (pdf)—not including the team in San Diego—or more than four for each resident of the state.

The new energy efficient chargers will save Californians an estimated $306 million a year in electricity costs, as well as enough electricity to power 350,000 homes for a year.

Of course, replacing the plethora of different chargers with one universal charger for a  particular type of gadget might be even better—and cut down on e-waste. But until that day, stronger charger standards give a nice jolt to energy efficiency efforts.

—David Biello

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]  

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