Is your cell phone sucking energy?
If you leave your cell phone plugged in all night to charge, even if it really only needs a few hours to fully charge, you're wasting energy, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, you are, but you probably aren't wasting enough energy to really make an impact on reducing your energy usage if you change your ways. The term for such unnecessary sucking of energy is called vampire draw.
This article does a good job explaining exactly how much energy is being burned up by leaving your cell phone (and other electronics) plugged in. Some highlights of the article:
- If you leave your phone plugged in all night, every night for a year, you will be using 6.5 kWh of energy. Compared to the 4,000 kWh the average American uses each year, it's really kind of a drop in the bucket. If you'd like to do something little to make a bigger difference-swap one incandescent light bulb in your home for a fluorescent bulb and save yourself 126 kWh a year.
- It is suggested that you unplug your phone's charger when it is not in use (because every little bit of energy you save helps, right?); but the article also pointed out how tiny of an impact unplugging will make. If you leave your charger plugged in the entire year (8,760 hours) you will only be using a total of 2.3 kWh of electricity--equivalent to the amount of energy you would save that year by skipping one hot bath.
The article goes on to cover iPod and laptop battery energy consumption, as well as if it is better to charge your devices in your car or in your house (spoiler: you're better off at home). It is definitely worth a read if you've ever pondered how your gadgets were affecting your energy consumption.
If you read the article and are still convinced that you should be more proactive about vampire draw, there are a few products that are specifically made to eliminate needless use of electricity, like this Volt-Star Eco-Charger.
The jury's still out on overcharging
Whether or not overcharging your cell phone's battery can cause the battery to lose its charge faster has been the subject of much debate. Most resources I found (like this one) said that today's gadgets are very difficult to overcharge and that any depletion in battery life you experience is due to regular wear and tear of the battery over time. Others swear that leaving their phones on the charger too long has led to a decrease in battery life as compared to when they only charged it long enough to reach full charge. I couldn't find any official sources stating that this was the case.
I charge my phone all night, every night and have not experienced any sort of loss in battery life, but I'd love to hear from you. Do you notice a difference in your phone's battery if you leave it on the charger for too long? Do you think that's all just hype and overcharging is a thing of the past? Leave your comments below.
About the author: AJ George is IconLogic's lead Technical Writer and author of both "PowerPoint 2007: The Essentials" and "PowerPoint 2008 for the Macintosh: The Essentials."