Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Where did that watt go?

Having entered the working world around a year or so ago, it has become apparent to me that electricity is a small but measurable portion of my living expenses. If you consider my average electricity bill for the last year was $60, that's roughly 5% of my monthly expenses (yes expensive rent). That's about 4% too much in my opinion. So I purchased this little gadget from Amazon.

I was like a kid in a candy store with all the data I was collecting. I discovered quite a few things that were relatively shocking. Here's the list:
  • Verizon Wireless Router: 15W (On)
  • Logitech 5.1 Speaker System: 3W (Off)
  • D-Link-323 NAS w/ 1TB WD Caviar Drive: 24W (Normal Load), 1W (Off)
  • Desktop Computer Tower: 232W (Game), 166W (Idle), 5W (Off)
  • Samsung 21" LCD Monitor: 39W (On), ~0W(Off)
  • ViewSonic 19" LCD Monitor: 44W (On), ~1W (Off)
  • HP All-in-one Printer: 16W (Idle), 6W (Off)
  • Laptop: 15W (Idle, Screen open), 11W (Idle, Screen Closed), ~0W (Off)
  • GE Microwave: 2W (Idle)
What's the big picture you ask? Even if I'm 100% diligent and turn everything off but leave them plugged in while I'm not using them, I could potentially be using 16 extra Watts. That's 16W*24hr*30days/1000W/kw = 11.52kWh. When it's all said and done I pay about 15c/kwh. That means I pay an extra $1.72/month just because those items are off but still plugged in while not in use. This may not sound like much, and definitely pales in comparison to converting an incandescent bulb to CFL, but it's completely wasted. So, while we're buying new and expensive appliances that are energy efficient, there are plenty of other things that are wasting energy.

Solution? Well, until manufacturers are going to put complete disconnect switches in the transformers on products (or when we convert to a complete 12v house-grid to remove transformers altogether) we need a temporary solution. Mine was simply to buy a $3 power strip at walmart and plug that into my existing power strip behind my computer. The always on items such as my NAS server and router are plugged into the one closest to the wall and on the extension I plug all of the "power down" components such as the tower, speakers and monitors. Whenever I power down my computer now I click the button on the power strip to completely remove those them from the grid. As of now, the power strip and watt-meter have almost paid for themsleves. How much energy are you unknowingly wasting?

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