Monday, April 25, 2011

Home Energy Savings Workshop This Thursday in Miami Beach!!

As if learning to save $750 a year weren't enough... you'll also walk away with a home energy savings toolkit valued at $100.00!! This is the next installment of a very successful series of energy efficiency workshops put on in a partnership between Miami-Dade County and Dream in Green. Go ahead and register-- you'll still be home in time to catch 30 Rock!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Odds & Ends Post #4: Ooops, I Almost Forgot

I mentioned earlier that I had made a minor improvement at work using compact fluorescent bulbs, but I forgot to note the energy savings in my tally. As a reminder, here's the breakdown:

The two incandescent bulbs I replaced use:
50 watts ÷ 1,000 =  0.05 kWh
0.05 kWh × 8 hrs. = 0.4 kWh/day
0.4 kWh/day × 260 workdays/year = 104 kWh/yr

The new CFL bulbs use:
26 watts ÷ 1,000 =  0.026 kWh
0.026 kWh × 8 hrs. = 0.208 kWh/day
0.208 kWh/day × 260 workdays/year = 55 kWh/yr

Thats a difference of 49 kWh/yr which, considering we are now in April, represents a savings of approximately 37 kWh for 2011. With a vigorous pat on my own back, I now add that total to my tally.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Odds & Ends Post #3: APC Slurpee

Over the past two-and-a-half months, I've been learning a lot about my home power consumption. I've made some small modifications in my energy use that have resulted in some big savings according to my monthly energy bill. But there have been a few lessons learned along the way that are important to make note of and correct.

For example, a few weeks back I made major modifications to the manner in which I run my home computer. In short, I now power down my entire system when not in use and cut power to the whole thing by turning off my APC battery backup/surge protector. But I soon noticed that even though I shut off the power on the APC, my printer-- which I don't power down manually-- remained on. The printer was running on battery power, which was apparently being charged continually. In other words, the APC continued to suck power from the outlet even though I physically powered it down. Despite my best of intentions, it looked like my backup was thwarting my efforts.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Odds & Ends Post #2: New Meter Angst or Something More?

I've been waiting for the arrival of this month's bill following the installation of my new smart meter by FPL. It showed up in the mail today, and I was disappointed to find it reflected only a drop of 118 kWh over the same time period the previous year! A savings, yes, but nothing like the 50%+ decreases we've seen from previous months. And believe me, we've been subjecting ourselves to many a warm day as we've resisted the urge to crank the air conditioning way down. What gives?!? Is this evidence that our new smart meter is actually tallying greater amounts of energy use than its faithful predecessor??  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Odds & Ends Post #1: Watching My Every Move-- The Smart Meter

FPL's long-promised smart meter was unceremoniously installed at my home last month. The only reason I realized it was there was a notification on my monthly statement. The meter was installed in the middle of my billing cycle, so its still unclear whether it is a help or a hindrance. This month's bill will be far more illuminating (pardon the pun), and I expect it to arrive any day.

In the long run, when the full capabilities of the unit are available, I hope it will provide easier tracking of use and the ability to tailor energy consumption around peak periods. Only time will tell...

Friday, April 8, 2011

One More Workplace Improvement Before an Unexpected Break

There is a large display at my workplace that is illuminated eight hours every workday by two 25-watt incandescent bulbs. This week, I found comparable compact fluorescent bulbs and made the switch. Each of the new bulbs consumes only 13 watts while providing a much brighter output. Our calculations then are:

25 watts ÷ 1,000 x 8 hours x 2 bulbs x 260 days = 104 Total kWh/year
13 watts ÷ 1,000 x 8 hours x 2 bulbs x 260 days = 54 Total kWh/year

Our one little change has saved us 50 kWh over the course of one full year. That's a savings of about 37 kWh for the remaining year. Quite frankly, I think that might be enough hard work for a while...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Solar Boosts My Tally Update

This week's minor lifestyle modification proves that every little bit counts. Though I had already been using energy efficient lighting outdoors, switching to a solar-powered alternative helps not only reduce my consumption of electricity, but also helps curb my contribution to a mounting problem of light pollution. Based upon our earlier calculations, I'm updating our tally this week to reflect an additional yearly savings of 75 kWh per month.

Light pollution is, of course, not endemic to south Florida. Rather, our ravenous need for outdoor illumination is prevalent across the United States and the world. Several of my colleagues continue to work on this issue elsewhere. Take, for example, this special forces team otherwise known as the Dark Rangers.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Blogger's Dirty Little Secret Revealed!

I know this may be shocking, but I don't always blog in real time. So although yesterday's post made it sound like I was testing my new Westinghouse solar LED lights for the very first time last night, I've actually had them now for over two weeks. So here's the run down:

These lights are clearly marketed as LED spotlights, with an output 12 times brighter than other solar lights. That may well be true, but they are dim enough they could be considered accent lights. That said, they do adequately illuminate the windows and doors near which they were installed, without unnecessarily flooding the yard-- and skies above-- with light.

I'm gonna go ahead and recycle my BJs receipt-- these lights are keepers. Without compromising the integrity of the zodiac, I am still getting the functionality I need from my outdoor lighting, AND I'm doing so with renewable energy instead of relying on the power grid. NICE!  

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Testing the Waters of Solar...

Though I already use efficient lighting outdoors, I was inspired by a recent visit to BJs. I found this 3-pack of Westinghouse solar LED lights on sale for a paltry forty bucks. I'm big into experimenting, so I thought I would give them a try. Each light is powered by three nickel-metal hydride (Ni-Mh) cells which are recharged daily by a small photovoltaic panel. An array of 6 LEDs per light provide output for an advertised 8 hours of run time. A sensor powers the lights on only under low-light conditions.

After some minimal assembly, I staked each light around the front of my home, positioned to illuminate my front door and windows. Initial output of light seems pretty good. We'll see how they do overnight...

Friday, April 1, 2011

BJs Gives Me Another Bright Idea...

Despite my earlier rantings, I do appreciate a bit of night time lighting around my home for the purposes of security-- and entertainment. After all, its rather interesting to see what sorts of amazing insects naturally gravitate to the light (like the occasional sphinx moth!) and the nocturnal predators that show up for the evening buffet.

Two fixtures currently illuminate the outside of my home: one street lamp and an outdoor porch light. I have long since switched out the incandescent bulbs in each in favor of compact fluorescents. At the moment, there are three13-watt bulbs over the porch, and two 15-watt flood lights powering the street lamp. Last year, on average, I would say the lights burned a total of perhaps three hours every night. Thus,

13 watts + 13watts +13 watts + 15 watts +15 watts = 69 watts
69 watts ÷ 1,000 = 0.069 kWh
0.069 kWh × 3 hours = 0.207 kWh/day
0.138 kWh/day × 365 days = 75.55 kWh/year

Not a lot of juice, really, since the fixtures already use efficient bulbs. But a recent trip to BJs made me think there might be a better way...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where, o Where, is the Great Bear These Days?

Let me be clear... I ABHOR nighttime lighting. I do understand (and appreciate!) the importance of some lighting for safety and security. But my previous post should have made clear how excessive and redundant much of our nighttime illumination really is.

Anyone who has tried to escape the evening glow that emanates constantly from the Miami skyline can attest to its intrusive nature. Whether you are on a vessel in the middle of Biscayne Bay, camping overnight at the remote outpost of Flamingo, or hunkered down in the Florida Keys, Miami is always discernible-- manifesting itself as a semi-circular orb of conspicuous light erupting off the horizon. Thanks to such pollution, the south Florida night sky is typically dominated by only the brightest first and second-magnitude stars. A few familiar asterisms still appear (i.e., the big dipper), but the larger constellations they help form have long since disappeared from view. Think about it-- we, and our children, can no longer view the same stars that have been seen by our collective ancestors since the dawn of human history. Our generation has successfully conquered the moon while simultaneously extinguishing the stars around it.

I myself have often been complicit. I've been known to enjoy some holiday lighting around the home, and have often left the porch light on to welcome visitors. Time to investigate new strategies for cutting my electrical use and dimming my own light output.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Humbug! My December Epiphany

Yesterday's Earth Hour gave me occasion to remember a time this past December when I briefly thought I was having a near-death experience. And not surprisingly, it occurred while running through the streets of Miami. Let me explain...

I try to get in a few miles of jogging every day in the early morning. On one such run in December, I was unexpectedly overcome by some very bright light in the pre-dawn hours.It wasn't the light of the full moon that illuminated the night sky brightly that morning. Nor was it the strobe light that flashed brilliantly from my armband to alert passing motorists of my presence. Nor was it the LED strobes from the cyclists, runners, and school buses that I passed along my daily path in turn. Nor was it the headlights and high beams that greeted me head-on as I passed vehicles in the street, nor the crimson taillights of those traveling in the opposite direction. It wasn't even the gaudy, multi-colored displays of the holiday season that blinked and burned with the light of a thousand bulbs wastefully in the wee hours of morning.

Rather, it was a newly installed series of streetlights that caught me by surprise. I had watched them get installed over the previous year along the relatively desolate road that I regularly run. This "improvement" to the community was proudly promoted as a product of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA)-- supposed evidence of progress beyond our disastrous economic slump. And though the largely unnecessary street lamps only cost us a quarter million dollars, I wonder where the money will come from to operate and maintain them for the decades to come.

It wasn't until that December morn that I had seen the new lights in operation. Though the surprisingly brilliant light I encountered was not a portal to the afterlife, it did give me pause to consider the hell of light pollution in which I reside while alive.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tonight... One Hour... Make a Statement

Since 2007, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been organizing the annual Earth Hour, a now international grassroots effort to intended to highlight the important things we can do collectively for the good of the one resource we all share in common-- the blue planet. The idea is simple: individuals, organizations, and governments-- representing hundreds of millions of people-- will turn off their lights at precisely 8:30 PM this evening for a full 60 minutes in a show of solidarity and cooperation. Will you participate?

Organizers leave it up to the individual participants to decide how they will honor Earth Hour, as it is a largely symbolic event. Though the focus is on turning off non-essential lighting, you are free to show your commitment to conservation however you see fit. For those of us who have just spent the day basking in the south Florida warmth, it can also mean just turning off your a/c for an hour. Most importantly, its a time to consider how we can all show leadership in extending conservation practices beyond the sixty minutes of Earth Hour...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tragedy In Japan Makes It Hard To Keep It Light

Since I started this project a few months back, I've always tried to keep a wry sense of humor about it. But, as I mentioned in my very first post, my quest to become a more conscientious and efficient energy user is strongly rooted in more serious concerns. In particular, efforts on the part of Florida Power and Light to construct two new nuclear reactors on the shores of Biscayne Bay prompted me to finally take stock of how I was living in favor of wiser use. After all, if it is possible to halve our current consumption through simple changes in behavior, is expanding Turkey Point really worth the additional risks to our health and environment?

The frightening reality unfolding around the badly damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is a resounding wake-up call to the rest of the world. Five days into the aftermath, the plant has not only suffered three major explosions, but a tank holding spent fuel rods is now ablaze. The reactors are experiencing a meltdown worse than Three Mile Island, and rapidly approaching the severity of Chernobyl.

The devastation in Japan is gut-wrenching and so extensive that it-- like another disaster called Charlie Sheen-- is difficult to process with the human mind. Still, we had better pay attention. EVERY nuclear facility we construct is wrought with some element of risk. Regardless of where it is constructed, EVERY nuclear facility bears a real probability of failure. Whether by the sheer force of a tsunami or a powerful surge of a tropical storm; whether by the howling winds of a tornado or a typhoon, or at the careless hands of a technician or the careful hands of terrorist-- EVERY plant is susceptible to unimaginable damage.

Monday, March 14, 2011

49 Bucks! 49 BUCKS!!!!

That's the total of this month's energy bill: $49.30! I didn't think it was possible, but our energy bill dropped even LOWER than last month's $55.00 charge. We actually used 70 kWh less energy over the past four weeks. And that's a more than 60% reduction in energy use from the same time period last year. Not bad for a family of four living in a 4/2 in south Florida!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

1 Catfish = 2 Months of Home Energy Use!

Time to update our tally once more. As we figured earlier, the departure of our walking catfish on Saturday and it's requisite aquarium can expect to save us 0.24 kWh per day. And since there are approximately 300 days left in this year, that equates to a projected energy savings of 72kWh for 2011. Make no mistake about it, pets of every shape, size, and species require a great deal of energy (from both our outlets and ourselves!) The aquarium I've maintained in my home for the past ten years used an estimated 870 kWh of energy. At my current consumption rates, that's almost enough juice to power my ENTIRE home for two straight months!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Where Do Catfish Go To Mingle With Boas and Pythons?

I'm at a crossroads: how do I resolve my current catfish dilemma? There is a way.

Every year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sponsors a Nonnative Pet Amnesty Day at ZooMiami. The event is an opportunity for owners of non-domesticated animals (no doggies or kitties, please) to turn in pets they can no longer care for to a network of certified adopters. Provided they are healthy at the time of surrender, no animal is euthanized. I will be taking my (very healthy!) walking catfish to the event this coming Saturday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Energy/Environment/Animal Welfare Dilemma

So here's the current state of affairs. I have a nonnative species that has been living with me for the past five years. That's one less invasive organism causing harm in the wild, right? Except that the very act of keeping it alive is still causing measurable environmental harm through the otherwise unnecessary use of energy (not to mention the associated manufacturing of the aquarium and all the trappings necessary to maintain it.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Cost of One Catfish

About five years ago, I adopted a wayward catfish and dropped him in my home aquarium with my red-eared slider turtle. But a few months back the turtle, which we had owned for over eleven years, passed away. Now my tank is populated only by the catfish, and honestly, I yearn to finally be free from the burden of an aquarium altogether. While I've long dealt with the hassle of feedings, cleaning, and the purchasing of supplies, I'm now growing aware of the energy drain as well.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

These Fins Were Made For Walkin'...

About five years ago, a walking catfish flopped its way up to the front steps of my mother's house. Walking catfish are a nonnative species that has proliferated in the canals and wetlands of south Florida after being first discovered in the late 1960s. Knowing that I have an interest in such things, she immediately called me and informed me she had the homely creature in a bucket. "You want it?" she asked. In hindsight, it was an odd offering for someone to make. And yet, I immediately said yes.

Monday, February 28, 2011

This Place is Just Bulb-a-riffic...

Given the pattern of usage we discussed earlier, the incandescent bulbs in our kids' rooms consumed around 0.64kWh per day. Our new CFL bulbs use only 0.112 kWh per day. Considering we have 306 days left in the year, our projected energy savings for 2011 would be: 196 kWh - 34 kWh = 162 kWh. Today, we add that number to our tally.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Proper Bulbs Can Help the Fine People of WalMart

Having had great success in my daughter's room, I proceeded to change out all the incandescents in my son's room with Ecosmart CFLs. Both rooms are now WAY brighter, stay cooler, and each bulb only consumes 14 watts, as opposed to the 40 watt incandescents they replaced. Better still, the bulbs are SO bright, we don't need as many. With the quick tug of a chain, we now fire up only two bulbs instead of all four. So running the same numbers as we did earlier:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who You Callin' a Tater Tot?

Having had good success with Ecosmart bulbs from Home Depot in the past, I decided to give them another try. I picked up four 2-packs of Ecosmart Fan Soft White CFL Bulbs to try as replacements for the incandescents currently in the ceiling fans of our kids' rooms. Total cost: $39.88

Now that's a pretty good investment, so I decided to hedge my bets before I opened all the packages and replaced all the bulbs. First, I took all the bulbs out of one ceiling fan, nearly incurring third-degree burns from the white-hot glass. I probably should've waited a second or two. Nonetheless, while taking care not to rupture the painful blisters that now covered my fingers, I opened one of the CFL packages and screwed them into the fixture. With baited breath, I hit the switch.

Friday, February 25, 2011

These 160 Watts Feel Like Dante's Eighth Circle

The rising mercury in Miami has recently forced me to once again employ the services of our ceiling fans, which got me to thinking about the attached lighting. Each of my kids has a Hampton Bay ceiling fan in their rooms, which provides lighting by way of four incandescent bulbs. Each bulb burns 40 watts. That would be a total output of 160 watts which, interestingly, is less wattage than some heat lamps on the market! No wonder I'm always burning up in this house :-(

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Getting... Harder... To... Resist.... A/C!!

Its hard to believe some areas of our great country are bracing for more winter weather. The past week in south Florida has been a serious scorcher-- setting record high temperatures in some areas. There has been little cloud cover and little wind, and there is little relief in sight. Summer is upon us, my friends, and its only February. I fear last month's $55.00 FPL bill is facing a steady rise in the next few months. We'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

New Numbers for the Tally

Yesterday, we figured out that over the last year, my unwise management of our personal computer resulted in approximately 803 kWh of energy being used-- and that's a conservative estimate. Now coupled with my new found knowledge and another trusty power strip, we can be a bit wiser going forward. Assuming I now power up the computer for an average of three hours daily:

0.11 kWh x 3 hrs =  0.33 kWh/day
0.33 kWh/day x 315 days remaining in the year = 104 kWh
803 kWh last year - 104 kWh this year = 699 kWh saved

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fool Me Once, Shame on Me. Fool Me Twice? Fuggedaboudit!

Tsk, Tsk. Last year, I honestly kept my computer running all the time. In hindsight, I am ashamed to admit I was suckered into believing such an egregious lie and wasting so much energy. Now knowing the hourly draw of the system, we can tabulate the total cost of my ignorance. Assuming even a conservative run time of 20 hours a day:

0.11 kWh/hr x 20 hrs = 2.2 kWh/day
2.2 kWh/day x 365 days/yr = 803 kWh/yr
803 kWh/yr x $0.085/kWh = $68.25/yr

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Benefit of the Doubt

So yesterday's trial proved overwhelmingly that there are no power savings to be had by running your computer all the time to avoid powering up. Quite the contrary, running your computer for only one hour consumes ten times more energy than during the booting process. (Disclaimer: this was done on a desktop tower. I'm not really sure how laptops would measure up-- yet.)

My friend Karen reminded me about the power save features of most operating systems. To be totally honest-- shame on my-- these are features I have seldom used in the past. So to be fair, I decided to try my trial again using the most conservative power save setting available to me. I hooked up my Kill-A-Watt and adjusted the power settings of my Windows computer to both turn off the display and put the CPU to sleep after only five minutes of idle time.

During the next hour, the system consumed 0.05 kWh of power. That is a savings of nearly half the energy consumed without the power save features at all. Still, keep in mind that the computer was doing absolutely nothing for me while continuing to draw this power.

Even with these features enabled, I'm still getting an itchy power-off finger. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Debunking Computing Theory

Having operated my computer in accordance with some popular advice, I decided it was time to put the theory to the test. I plugged my home computing setup-- a CPU, monitor, printer, and speakers-- to a single power strip and plugged the lot into the Kill-A-Watt. Then I fired the whole thing up to try and figure out the truth. As part of the trial, it was important to differentiate between startup power and running power. Here's my methodology:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Mother's Brother's Second Cousin's Barber Once Told Me...

For the past several years, I have pretty much left my personal home computer on all the time. I really don't remember where I first heard it, but somehow, I came to understand that the act of powering up my CPU, monitor, printer, and speakers consumed more energy than simply leaving it running.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This Month's Electric Bill: $55.00

$55.60 to be exact! Never in my life, even while living in my first apartment, have I ever had an electric bill this low. During the same time period last year we used 949 kWh of energy. This year, our use was down to a Lilliputian 491 kWh.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

On Night Lights and the Butterfly Effect

So I've updated the tally this week to reflect the estimated energy savings that resulted from swapping out night lights with traditional incandescent bulbs to LEDs. Here's how the numbers were computed:

0.16 kWh/day (incandescents) - 0.012 kWh/day (LEDs)= 0.148 kWh/day difference
365 days/yr - 45 days lapsed thus far this year = 320 days remaining
320 days x 0.148 kWh/day = 47.36 kWh saved this year

Saturday, February 12, 2011

If You Could Work About 90% Less, Would You?

After coming home with three new LED night lights, here's what I found:

The light from each was really quite comparable to that of the incandescent lights they replaced. And you've gotta love kids-- both of mine thought changing out the old lights was groovy. But the best part was that we got the performance at an energy premium. Each night light now draws 0.3 watts. So using the same calculations as before:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Can Light Emitting Diodes Spook a Monster?

Earlier this year, I lamented that LED light bulbs didn't quite cut it for replacing the incandescents in our bathroom. Still, I believed there might be some good applications for these highly efficient bulbs. I decided to give them another shot as a possible substitute for our current night lights.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What's Lurking Behind the Night Light in Your Child's Bedroom?

As a parent, I find night lights to be particularly handy appliances. Still, I wanted to know how they impact our home energy use. So here's the quick survey:

We have three night lights in use in our home. Each contains a small incandescent bulb that draws a paltry 4 watts of electricity. Each has a sensor that automatically turns on the light in dark situations. Thus, two of the three are only operational for, let's say, an average of twelve hours daily. The third, however, stays on almost all the time, as its perched in a dark interior room. Because all three turn off when the overhead room lights are turned on, let's assume that, in aggregate, the night lights burn approximately 40 hours every day. So:

4 watts  ÷ 1,000 = 0.004 kWh
0.004 kWh x 40 hours = 0.16 kWh/day
0.16 kWh/day x 365 = Approx. 58 kWh/year

Not a huge amount, I'll admit, but here's the question: is this expenditure of power really necessary? I know I need the light, but is there another, more efficient, way?

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Require Illumination-- Bring Forth the Night Lights!!

Got kids? If so, then its a given that you've got night lights in your home. They are handy little appliances that scare away monsters in the middle of the night, help light a path between the bedroom and the bathroom during emergencies, and keep parents from snapping a tendon while navigating the dimly lit minefield of toys that is the hallway.

Most of the time, night lights dutifully execute their given task with little more than the flick of a switch. Some are even designed to respond to motion or low-light situations. Thus, they require little attention and inspire little thought. But its time to examine just how innocuous our little nighttime helpers really are. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cork Your Floors and Hug Your Wii

Here's a little Sunday reading for you compliments of some of this blog's followers:

Check out this Washington Post video essay on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Headquarters, which has earned a platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program. Read more about this revolutionary structure in the accompanying article from the WP.

Also, check out yesterday's article on small appliance energy use from Yahoo, particularly the mention of gaming systems. I checked out the site of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and found yet another reason to love your Nintendo Wii.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Just in Time for Superbowl Sunday...

Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, I bring you news of savings to be had by cutting standby power to your TV. This week we saved 182 kWh of energy by using a power strip on our home entertainment system. Given FPL's current rates, that will buy you a bag of chips, some salsa, and a sixer of Tecate from the local grocer. That should hold us over while watching what will likely be a forgettable game, a disappointingly unintelligible halftime show, and an endless rotation of grossly overpaid, unimaginative advertisements featuring talking CGI babies drinking Coke. I predict a little heartburn, but at least we saved some power!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Rigors of Installation

Maybe my last post was a little misleading. All I really needed to do was plug in all my equipment and mount an on/off switch to the wall next to the entertainment system. Bob Villa I ain't, but two small screws were all I needed to complete the installation of my new wireless Belkin power strip.

I had my kids help me plug in all the devices (since they use them more than I do!) as an impromptu lesson in conservation. I've had a day to play with the new set up and I gotta say-- its pretty cool. The wireless remote makes accessing the power strip uber-convenient, and it feels good knowing how much energy we're saving. Speaking of which, here's the breakdown:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No Big Draw on TV, But a BIG Draw From It!

Having tested my bedroom entertainment set-up, I learned the total amount of standby power was relatively small. It was time to set my sights elsewhere in the house. I connected my Kill-A-Watt to the home entertainment components we currently have in our living room. These include a large-screen television, surround-sound system, signal amplifier, game system, and VCR (for all you young 'uns, that's a "video cassette recorder.")

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thank you, Marconi, For This Wasteful Device...

I've known for years that watching television was a empty pursuit. Vacuous programming has a way of sapping valuable hours from your life in a most insidious manner. But little did I know that, all these years, the boob tube was actually wasting more than just my time.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Anniversary! Here's Your Strip...

This past week, my wife and I celebrated our eleventh wedding anniversary. Always a stickler for traditional gifts, she presented me with a wireless Belkin power strip, similar to the ones I discussed in an earlier post. Turns out, she caught me recently hooking up my Kill-A-Watt to our home entertainment system. Realizing I was on the cusp of making her television viewing a bit less convenient, she decided on the gift as a means of preserving our blessed union.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Numbers for the Tally

So with my recent office change, and given that we are now nearly a month into the new year, I am adding 206kWh/yr to my projected energy savings for 2011. This recent change will not, of course, reflect on my home electrical bill. But as I've mentioned before, the importance of promoting greater efficiency transcends our own personal monthly cost savings. Any improvement, no matter how slight, represents a much bigger savings for all!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Here's My Glass of Lemonade...

Yesterday, I realized I'd been frying every day under the wattage of the fluorescent lights overhead in my office. Given their output, running eight at a time seems a bit excessive. As it is, I spend most of my time peering into the luminous screen of my computer monitor, so do I really need all this light? I decided to disconnect four of the bulbs overhead and achieved, to my satisfaction, the perfect level of light for my needs. And at the end of the day I explained what I had done to our building maintenance man with a request that he not replace the bulbs.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Be Careful-- He Wields Great Power!

My office is literally my home away from home-- my domicile for eight hours of every working day. So in figuring out my overall energy consumption, my workspace is likely to figure pretty prominently. I took a recent raid of my office space as a cue to examine my energy use at work to see where I can be more efficient.

I'm starting, of course, with lighting. A full suite of eight fluorescent bulbs burn over my head everyday to illuminate the sad, 100-square-foot hovel I call my office. Yesterday, I popped the not-so-fancy light fixture that hides them to get a better view at the bulbs. Turns out none of them had any indication of how much wattage they consume. They sure don't make this easy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Suspect This Masked Bandit...

So a couple of weeks ago, my office was robbed. Fortunately, the varmint only made off with two things: my cell phone and a laptop computer. Here is my wish for the unidentified criminal: that he suffer through as many dropped calls as I have over the past year, and that he enjoy sitting through the HOURS of coma-inducing PowerPoint presentations on my desktop.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Carbon-Neutral Motorcade??

One more quick thought for the day:

The Natural Resources Defense Council announced today that they have purchased "offsets" to make tonight's Presidential motorcade to the State of the Union address carbon-neutral. This is, I sincerely believe, a well-intentioned gesture intended to raise awareness on the need to adopt renewable, climate-friendly energy policies. (And its working, I might add-- it inspired this post!)

Personally, though, I hope the concept gives everyone pause. The idea of purchasing carbon credits as a worthy penance for those energy consumers affluent enough to do so seems misguided. The practice amounts to a lavish outlay of cash designed to assuage the conscience of the guilt-ridden while they press ahead with the status quo. Clearly, our present situation demands a fundamental change in our priorities and behavior, not a shift in our allocation of capital. We cannot hope to solve our energy woes by throwing money at companies, communities, and countries in the hopes they will save us from ourselves.

What's good for the President on the world stage, sadly, is not the solution for America as a whole.

Florida Power & Light MUST Be Following This Blog!

Check out what I just found in my mailbox. A notice from FPL that they will be installing a new "smart meter" at our residence in the near future. Was it something I said?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rack 'Em Up!

Following the results of last week's sparring match, I have updated my projected energy savings for the year to reflect an additional 54 kWh.

One of my followers recently emailed me saying, "At this rate, you're going to run out of things to do by July." Doubtful. I'm becoming ever-more cognizant of the pervasive use of energy all around us, and so far, I haven't even left my own bedroom. But if I DO run out of things by July, I'll still call it a success... I usually give up on my New Years resolutions by February!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Winner, by Unanimous Decision, is...

After a prolonged time in the ring, here's how our little smackdown worked out:

The LED accent bulbs used only 2 watts of energy. Thus, using the same calculations from my earlier post, the whole fixture would consume only 4 kWh/yr, for a remarkable energy savings of 80 kWh/yr over  incandescent bulbs! Unfortunately, each of the accent bulbs only cranked out the advertised 50 lumens apiece, leaving our bathroom, shall we say, less than brilliant. In fairness to Sylvania, however, these are clearly marketed as accent bulbs-- LEDs intended to provide the equivalent output of incandescents are marketed under their "ULTRA" line. More on this in a second.