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The Sound of Guilt Being Assuaged

October 13, 2009

My former “employer” Slate (yes, it has to be bold and italicized and no, they didn’t, you know, pay me but I went in and wrote things for them a.k.a. interned there) has a weekly feature called The Green Lantern which answers readers’ questions about the environmental effects of their lifestyle decisions. Today’s question is “Is charging your cell phone overnight a major waste of energy?” The question stems from the fact that if you leave your phone plugged in all night you’re likely leaving it plugged in for multiple hours while it’s fully charged.

As someone who charges his phone overnight, this was of particular interest to me. Fortunately, however, it’s a drop in the bucket in the overall scheme of things: if you leave your phone charged and plugged in for eight hours a day for a year, it uses an extra 6.5 kWh. For reference, the average American consumes more than 4,000 kWh per year and, to compare, changing one incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent bulb saves 126 kWh per year. I’ll sleep much more soundly now, in spite of the needlessly overcharged device on my bedstand.

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