Technology has evolved exponentially in recent decades. Products that innovators could not even imagine until just a few decades ago are now our everyday life – and the speed with which technology is evolving seems to be accelerating. While some claim that many technological innovations improve our lives, connecting us with information, entertainment, and each other, others claim the opposite. Yet, it is inevitable that various technological innovations have forever changed our lives and the world around us. Below we bring you some of the more significant shifts in the world of technology over the past decades and tips on how you can be energy efficient while using them.
Though it wasn’t the first smartphone on the market, Apple introduced the revolutionary iPhone in 2007. Social media, messaging, and the mobile internet wouldn’t be nearly as powerful if they hadn’t been freed from the shackles of the desktop computer and optimized for the iPhone and its dozens of competitors. Armed with powerful features and ability to run thousands of apps, Apple squeezed more functionality into one device than we’d ever seen before. Today, more than thirteen years after the iPhone’s introduction, almost 4 billion people around the world use a smartphone, nearly half the Earth’s population. By using a lot of apps during the day, cell phones wear out very quickly and need to be charged often. The charger, when plugged in without a mobile phone, also consumes energy. According to many studies, a charger, if it is plugged in without charging the cell phone, can consume as much electricity as it takes to heat a single boiler in a year. Therefore, the next time you charge your phone, unplug the charger.
More than twenty years ago, a new media storage format took over the entertainment world. DVDs had superior picture and sound quality to the VHS tape, and they took up less room on your shelves. Movie rental stores abandoned VHS for DVDs, and online rental services like Netflix popped up, offering the convenience of mailing rented discs directly to users. Then Netflix introduced its streaming service, allowing people to watch movies and TV shows across the internet. Consumers fell in love with the convenience of on-demand programming. As more streaming services, like YouTube, emerged, consumers started canceling cable and satellite subscriptions and rental services for streaming went belly up. Did you know that while watching your favorite series or movies on some of the streaming channels, you can also be energy efficient? If you have curtains and blinds in the room, open them up and use sunlight instead of artificial light while enjoying your favorite scenes with your favorite actors. In this way, you will, at the same time, contribute to the reduction of your energy bills in two ways, because you will light but also heat your home, which will, in parallel, also contribute to the reduction of heating bills.
Electric cars, whose popularity came to life when they first went public in the 19th century, have returned in the last decade with significantly advanced technology, which has driven 4-wheeled pet lovers crazy. What makes these cars especially attractive, in addition to aesthetics and engines, is that they contribute to cleaner air in cities, as they do not emit harmful substances into the environment, such as particles (soot), hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, lead, and various nitrogen oxides. The benefits of clean air are most often local because, depending on the source of electricity used to charge the battery, emissions of harmful substances into the air are shifted to the place of production of electricity. Electric motors are simply more efficient than internal combustion engines, so more battery power is used for the ride itself. Electric vehicles consume less energy, especially in city driving. Particles will still be present due to braking and tire wear, but there will be fewer of them overall than when using petrol and diesel cars.
As the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world we live in, forcing us to avoid contact with others, videoconferencing has exploded in popularity. Along with webcams, free internet services such as Skype popularized the tech in the 2000s, taking videoconferencing to all corners of the internet. The corporate world embraced the tool as a way to cut down on employee travel for meetings and as a marketing tool. As companies and schools implemented policies on work and study from home, videoconferencing apps grew in popularity as a way to get work done and communicate with friends and family, especially among people who had never used the tech before. If you use some form of video communication with co-workers, friends, or family, don’t forget to unplug your computer after using it so that you do not waste electricity unnecessarily.
This type of technology will become more and more sophisticated over time, but it will also be more accessible in economic terms. In recent years, the ability to connect multiple devices has increased. You can already connect your smartphone to your TV, car, and even your refrigerator and stove. In this way, we are not only making our everyday life easier but also saving energy. For example, with this innovation, we do not need to open the fridge unnecessarily and write down everything we need to go shopping; if anything is missing, we can see it by entering the app on our phone. In this way, you save time and electricity and thus reduce electricity bills.
LED bulbs have become increasingly popular in the last decade and have almost completely replaced halogen bulbs. More and more households are choosing to use this relatively new and better source of artificial light. Although the first visible LED spectrum was invented in 1962, technological advances led to a large drop in prices, making LED bulbs and LED lighting a cost-effective and very good solution for lighting a space. It is a known fact that energy-saving light bulbs contain mercury, while LEDs do not contain harmful substances. LED bulbs also have a much smaller impact on the environment in terms of pollution and are therefore much better to use if nature and the environment are kept in mind.
The inevitable fact is that technology will develop faster and more efficiently in the coming decades and centuries, the only question is in which direction. No matter what new gadgets or services we have at our disposal, don’t forget to pay attention to electricity consumption and to be energy efficient in your everyday life.