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AT&T's new "green" phone charger saves energy and cuts down on e-waste.

Consumer Technology

"AT&T the Vampire Slayer" vs. Energy Sucking Cell Phone Chargers

AT&T’s new “green” phone charger saves energy and cuts down on e-waste.

AT&T introduces an energy saving cell phone charger that replaces "energy vampire" chargersBuffy step aside, there’s a new vampire slayer in town.   AT&T is gunning for those notorious energy-sucking cell phone chargers known as “energy vampires.”  The company is introducing a new energy saving cell phone charger that automatically shuts down when the battery is charged.  Old-school chargers keep bleeding energy out of your wall socket even after you unplug the phone end.  An automatic shutdown might seem like a small deal but all that wasted electricity adds up over time.

There other other ways defeat a vampire charger (unplug it from the wall when your phone is charged, duh), but who remembers to do that?  Besides, AT&T’s new charger has some bonus sustainability tricks up its sleeve.

A More Sustainable Cell Phone Charger

The new charger was developed by Superior Communications to achieve a five-star energy efficiency rating, which exceeds standards set by GSMA (a global mobile phone industry association).  Its packaging is smaller than the conventional norm and it uses 100% recycled paper, an improvement that AT&T recently announced for all of its wireless accessories.  In accord with GSMA’s mission of global standardization, the new charger is made of interchangeable components that will be compatible with future generations of handsets, which will help cut down on e-waste and save consumers money over the long run.  AT&T also says that the new charger will cost the same as other replacement chargers.

Energy Vampires: Small Devices, Big Energy Wasters

As for those old chargers, AT&T estimates that “a charger left plugged into a wall wastes electricity – enough to power 24,000 homes for a year.”  I’m not sure if that statistic makes sense (do they mean a single charger, or are they painting a global picture?), but either way you cut it, chargers that automatically shut off present a significant opportunity to conserve energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions.  The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated that energy vampires such as chargers and electronic devices in standby mode waste about 5% of household energy use in the U.S.  That translates into about 65 billion kilowatt hours of wasted electricity per year, and chargers are the biggest culprits.  The U.S. Department of Energy came to a similar conclusion, as did studies in other developed countries including Britain, France, Japan, the Netherlands and Australia.

Image: Toy vampire by pasukaru on

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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


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