Hey Mr. Green,
My gym (women only) is often very lightly attended in the afternoons. Then, even during the busy times, those clients using the cardio machines are usually watching the TV. But all day long, there are 8 large (I am guessing 36"), flatscreen tvs (Ilo brand) turned on with no one watching. This gym is open 7 days a week. I am wondering how much energy, and how many dollars, they would save if the screens were on only when someone actually wanted to watch? —Kristina, in Marietta, Georgia
Assuming they have LCD screens, TVs of this brand and size use about 200 watts. So if they’re on for, say 12 hours a day, 8 of them would rack up a total of about 19,000 watts or 19 kilowatt hours a day. With your commercial electric rates in Georgia presently at 9.5 cents a kilowatt hour, the total cost would be $1.80 a day or about $660 a year. Of course where rates are higher, the cost goes up correspondingly. Hawaii’s rate would push the operating cost of these screens in the same-size gym close to $2,000 a year. (If a gym is splurging on plasma screens the cost could be as much as triple these amounts.)
I do hope this sort of calculation will encourage everybody to study their utility bills and then do very simple math to grasp the staggering amount energy (and money) we waste. The United States consumes almost twice as much electric power per capita as highly developed countries like Germany, so it’s obvious that we can cut our outrageous consumption. (For a look at the nasty environmental consequences of this waste, take a look at “The Dirty Truth About Coal.”)
It’s really simple. Just look at your monthly bill, and find the price per kilowatt hour. Then look at the wattage rate of any device, multiply this by the hours you use it per month, and divide by 1,000 to get the kWh. Multiply this by the price per kilowatt hour to see how much it costs to operate. If you have kids, let them do the calculations for wholesome family fun. Maybe they’ll even learn to turn off all their lights and electronic toys.
Finally, let us connect these burning environmental issues with larger moral and philosophical question. Why, I ask, why, why do people sweating away to be lean and fit gape at the same screen that entrances millions of flabby, junk-food-engorged couch potatoes? What about brain fitness? Are we incapable of having thoughts of our own while bouncing on a cardio machine? Why, indeed, all these damned ubiquitous energy-wasting idiotizing screens in bars and airports and even motor vehicles? What’s next? TVs in psychiatrists’ offices and priests’ confessionals because we’ve reached the point where we can’t even recognize our hang-ups and sins unless they’re on a screen? I say let’s unplug all these public oblivion devices and save energy while giving captive audiences the opportunity to reactive their minds.