Update: 9/24/10: Measured TiVo standby and it saves only 1W. Phooey! I confirmed with TiVo support that “we don’t recommend turning it off and on repeatedly, but the system is designed to handle power outages, so it should be fine”. They also point out the newest model of TiVo are Energy Star compliant, standby does reduce power consumption and at idle, its around 20W, but honestly, that seems needlessly high to me.
I want to put a timer switch on my TiVo because it uses 37 watts all the time (which is good compared to normal cable boxes, which TiVo replaces). But I only ever watch or record shows between noon and midnight — the TiVo is on half the time for no reason.
So I asked a question on the public support forum about whether turning the device on and off like this would hurt it.
I got a little helpful advice, but a flood of responses saying things like:
- The energy used to make the timer would never be offset by the amount of energy you save
- Don’t forget that the timer is an electrical device and consumes energy
- It boggles my mind that people would waste their time on saving a few cents a day
- The amount of energy you might save is tiny compared to X
- Don’t forget how much money you spend buying all the things that help you save energy
- It’s behavior like this that got us into all this trouble with mortgages and buying too much stuff
The first two items are potentially valid. Things take energy to make (and ship, etc.). To find out how much, you need to hire a very
expensive reasonably priced Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) consultant like my friend Tom Gloria. And while Tom G. would be the first to caution me about this, a little common sense suggests that an $8 device that operates a tiny clock motor may have a relatively small footprint. And given that it has been sitting unused in a bin for three years, I would argue it’s a kind of resurrection of the “sunk cost” :-)
The next point is worth considering, and I did: the timer uses far less than 1 watt.
On the next point, granted, that I spend my time thinking about these things is truly inexplicable. But some people while away their time in various other pursuits such as fishing and photography of their pets — this is just my little peccadillo.
But the other comments are a little different — there’s something going on here. It seems like people think it’s pointless to save a little, or according to the last point, downright harmful. (Thankfully no one on the TiVo “community” forum attacked me on the grounds of the Jevons Paradox, because I would have lost it).
Am I missing the forest for the trees? Are my efforts to save energy counter-productive? Is it worse not to use something than to simply waste it?
Or have I perhaps just stumbled into the hornet’s nest that is today’s conversation about what is right? Sigh.
(As an aside, I asked a question of the official TiVo support and their response noted a “Standby” function I hadn’t noticed, which I will measure, and that I can easily use if it actually saves energy.)