Frugal Librarian #23: Vampire Appliances

If someone just handed you a couple hundred bucks around Christmas time, you’d be cool with that, right?

That, apparently, is what you will get if you can work into your routine a daily flip of a common power strip before you go out the door, effectively cutting the energy draw to devices that aren’t in use.  Vampire energy (though obviously a lower amount than when the item is in full-tilt operation) still accumulates, some would say unnecessarily.  That energy goes to keeping the clock illuminated, and having the device in a general state of almost-readiness for you to come use it.  If you’re never going to come use it for a week, then there’s no sense in that, is there?

According to the United States Department of Energy, 75 percent of home electricity for appliances and electronics is consumed while they are turned off.

Use that VCR very much?  If it is plugged in, that’ll run you close to seven dollars this year.  Plasma Televisions, Satellite A/V receivers, are apparently pigs as well.

A device that is getting a lot of press is the Kill-A-Watt, which tells you the draw of individual devices and predicts your bills.

There also are smart power strips which will sense when an appliances are in vampire mode and “stop the bleeding” so to speak.

Cooking Green by Kate Heyhoe

cooking-greenWe’ve all become very aware of our environment, it’s perilous condition and how we impact it every day. Many of us have taken steps to reduce this “carbon footprint” by recycling, using less energy, cutting back where we can. But have you considered your “cookprint”?

In Cooking Green Kate Heyhoe explains that your cookprint is the environmental impact produced by your kitchen, then clearly advises you on how to reduce yours. A lot of her ideas are common sense – buying Energy Star appliances for instance – but some are techniques you may not be familiar with. For instance, she advocates passive cooking which takes advantage of residual heat – start your lasagna in a cold oven, then turn it off 15 minutes early leaving the oven door closed till finished. You’re still cooking the foods you want, just doing it smarter.

Heyhoe looks at each zone in the kitchen (cooking, cleaning, refrigerating) and discusses the best green alternatives. She also talks about the food itself – buy local as much as possible, consider the impact of production and transportation of other foods, eat more plants than animals. She explores the higher environmental costs of meat and seafood, but offers smart, simple ways to reduce their negative impact.

Of course, who would go green in the kitchen if there wasn’t anything good to eat? Heyhoe addresses that too, including 50 delicious recipes, from main course to vegetables to desert, with tips and ideas on the best way to prepare them. Each recipe has a “green meter” which tells you exactly what you’re saving (in energy, time and money) The dishes are simple and practical and would be a great way to help you take advantage of seasonal foods from the farmer’s markets.

This fun and fascinating book will entertain and educate the cook and non-cook alike.