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Focusing on Power Consumption

There’s a great article in The New York Times on energy consumption and how to decrease yours. I don’t know how easy the article will be to acces, since after a day or two they generally require sign in, but it’s an interesting read.

The author bought a Kill A Watt to measure the power consumed by various electronics when they were not in use. These included his computer, TiVo, cable box and DVD player.

The experiment made him realize just how much energy he was wasting in his home. He’s not alone:

Indeed, the Department of Energy estimates that in the average home, 40 percent of all electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Add that all up, and it equals the annual output of 17 power plants, the government says.

This is something I’ve been trying to convince my husband of for a while. I may even decide to pick him up a Kill A Watt at some point if it will help to make my point.

I’ve often thought that what I need to do is have appliances that I don’t need to worry about reprogramming attached to a power strip that I can turn off. There are an awful lot of electronic devices that have clocks on them that I really do not need. That’s a bit challenging with children, however, if these relate to anything they might want to use.

My computer has long since been set to go to a low power mode when I’m not using it for a time, and I’m working on the habit of flat out turning off the monitor. Only reason I don’t turn off the whole thing is because I use Media Center to record television shows and I don’t always know if it’s going to be catching something. But I’m hoping that one computer left on is more efficient than one computer plus one TiVo left on. This hope is somewhat confounded by the author’s measurement of an idle computer drawing 134 watts versus an idle TiVo drawing 30 watts.

But I don’t have the budget for a TiVo or the subscription to actually use it. So the only way I can change that is to start remembering to check the schedule to see if I should bother to leave it on. And to remember that it’s scarcely a disaster if we miss a show or three.

There are some little things I know to do already, such as unplugging chargers when they aren’t actually charging anything. It’s working on the bigger devices that is challenging.

There are a lot of things I would like to do to save energy, but are hard to do when you’re a renter. Replacing the refrigerator, for example. The one we have here is old and I can’t believe it’s efficient. Ditto the washer and dryer. No HOA to file insane objections, so I’ve been thinking that I should find a way to hang a clothesline. Just haven’t puzzled that one out yet. The fence is brick and no trees in the yard, so this is not something easy to do.

Have you given much thought to your power consumption in your home? Done anything about it?

Technorati Tags: power consumption, energy consumption, computers, low power, kill a watt

2 Responses to Focusing on Power Consumption

  1. I use a clothesline, but also had the same issue with brick and such. My hubby built a little stand thing out of the shepard’s hooks used for hanging plants. I also use a drying rack inside for the days where it is rainy.

    To curb electricity, we also do not use any scented plug in things- wasteful, have a one light on at a time rule in our house, use our windows for most of our light, unplug when not using things, turned our water heater down, cut out any electrical appliances that are not needs (electric can opener?), turn a/c down, and many more items.

    The other thing that can be done for situations where you can’t replace power hog appliances is through most power companies now, purchase some green energy. Most of the time it is only a few dollars more a month. http://www.sterlingplanet.com/

  2. Those are some great tips.

    I’ve always detested those room scent things, most especially the plugin ones, but I figure pretty much any of them are just adding more chemicals to the air.

    No electric can opener, and I’m really good at keeping that AC off. I’m in the process right now of adapting to summer’s heat so that I don’t need to use it most days. If I can do this like last year (a very hot summer even for this area), I can keep it off most days until right before bedtime when I start needing things to cool off enough for people to sleep, and opening the windows once outside cools off doesn’t do it.

    I do like the idea for a clothesline. Our yard has a lot of space that isn’t used much because the landlords put in the wrong kind of woodchips (they give splinters quite freely), so the kids won’t play there.

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