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.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Time for an Energy-Sippin' SMACKDOWN!!

Tired of accidentally suffering burns from scalding incandescents? Put off by the unsightly, mercury-laden swirls of CFLs? Rejoice! A new option for residential lighting is hitting the streets-- Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)! I've noticed lately that LED bulbs are becoming more common in the market place, where they offer two big advantages to consumers. They can be far more efficient than CFLs, and the bulbs contain no mercury. But, as far as performance, I don't really know how they stack up against CFLs. So its time for some good old-fashioned sparring!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Pleasant Surprise Early On!

I need a constant stream of motivation to keep me moving on projects, so I'm always on the prowl for a little inspiration. We received our electrical bill from Florida Power and Light for the month and, on a lark, I decided to compare it to the same time period the year prior. Here's how they compare by energy consumption and billed cost:

Dec. 8, 2009–January 9, 2010
December 8, 2010–January 10, 2011
1,794 kWh
1,046 kWh

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vanity is SUCH an Energy Sink...

I'm trying to figure out how to replace some hell bulbs in our bathroom while still maintaining the necessary brightness to accomplish important feats of personal hygiene. Currently, we've got six 40-watt bulbs burning in the vanity fixture. That's a total pull of 240 watts. Before I go changing anything, I want to know how much energy it would consume over the remaining year without any modification. Here's how I figure it out:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

C.F.L., or, Casa Falta Luz

So its time to do something about the energy hog in my bathroom. My wife has always supported my desire to be more green, but there is one issue where she draws the line-- lighting. She and I have now owned two homes, and she has patiently suffered through my efforts to replace as many incandescent bulbs with compact florescent lights (CFLs) as possible. But the truth is, CFLs typically aren't as bright as the wattage they purport to replace. AND most CFLs don't really achieve full brightness until after at least a few seconds of being turned on. The result? Our home, like yours truly, is often quite dim.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Fixture as Decorative as...

At some point in our collective history, someone set out to create the least decorative piece of lighting humanly imaginable. The result? The omnipresent bathroom vanity light bar. The very design screams, "MINIMALIST VOMIT!", and would no doubt make Thomas Edison regret having ever invented the bulb. Yet somehow, this fixture has made it into every American domicile since Monticello.

And this bare-bones piece of lighting is an energy hog. Each fixture usually boasts between four and eight 40-50 watt incandescent bulbs. And because they are all exposed, removing a few, or replacing the incandescents with the swirled tubing of a CFL looks downright odd.

We currently have one such fixture in our bathroom, and I've long had a hankering to do something about it. The time is now...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

NOW She Tells Me... D'oh!!

So after reading about how I badly mangled my bedroom furniture, my sister decided to provide a different (and significantly easier) means of accessing a power strip: invest in a wireless model. Turns out, there's a whole array of energy conservation products manufactured by Belkin that are intended to help stop the wasteful flow of standby power using wireless technology, timers, and automation. Who knew?!?

Yes, buying a Belkin strip might have proven a little easier. Still, I tend to live my life asking WWBVD? That is, "What would Bob Villa Do?" And this time, I think I made him proud...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tally Update!

Racked up a bit o' savings this past week, so my projected energy savings for 2011 has now
officially been updated!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Once a Boring Night Stand, Now a Stylish Charging Station!

I'm not very handy when it comes to home improvement projects, so my wife watched nervously as I silently entered our bedroom with a cordless drill. No need to fret, though-- I was merely making a cosmetic change to a small piece of furniture in the name of energy efficiency. Given the outcome of this week's trial with the Kill-A-Watt, it became apparent I needed to plug all my charging cables into a power strip to prevent the constant streaming of standby power. But I didn't relish the thought of snuggling up next to a sprawling electrical octopus in my bedroom. Hence the need for a little remodeling.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Guilty!! Time to Dispense Some Justice...

The trial only lasted a day, but after 24 hours, the verdict was clear. The small menagerie of cables and circuitry I've harbored in my room over the past year have been preying upon my outlets like sea lampreys. And the parasitism has been occurring at a steady pace-- to the tune of 0.07 kWh per day. Okay, so they're not exactly the electronic equivalent of, say, Bernie Madoff. But their sluggish gluttony is still important: over a single year, that amounts to over 25 kWh of wasted electricity! And if that's the draw from the small stuff, what's coursing through my slumbering TVs?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Shaver, a Tea Light, and Two Charging Cables...

With a wooden stake in hand, Killa and I have begun searching my home for possible vampires. I think I may have found a few. I've identified a suite of little chargers and devices I've unnecessarily kept plugged into outlets in my bedroom over the past year. An electric shaver in the bathroom, a rechargeable tea light set in the bedroom, and charging cables for both my cell phone and my digital camera. Sure they look innocent, but are they guilty of surreptitiously bleeding me dry? Let their trial commence!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meet My Little Friend Killa...

Having exposed the potential presence of vampires in my own home, I figured I needed to surround myself with some protection. I began trolling for help online and happened upon a nifty little site called SmartHome. For only $25.00, I was able to arrange the purchase of a real-deal Killa.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Blood is SOOOOO yesterday... I prefer JUICE!

Its eleven o'clock at night, and you're midway through your fourth viewing of the "puffy shirt" Seinfeld episode. You feel yourself getting drowsy and, being a responsible energy user, set your sleep timer to turn off in an hour-- just in case you nod off. Sure enough, you slowly drift off to sleep, woefully unaware that in the darkness that ensues, vampires will begin to feed around every corner of your house. Even that television-- your former ally in energy conservation-- is actually sucking you dry!  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Watts Your Problem? Tracking Energy!

With our new hybrid water heater installed, I decided to run a quick calculation to estimate my projected energy savings for 2011. Here's the breakdown:
  1. Figure out the difference in annual energy consumption between my old and new water heaters:
    Old Water Heater (4,992 kWh/yr) - New Water Heater (1,856 kWh/yr) =  3,136 kWh/yr
  2. Figure out the daily savings in kWh/day:
    3136 kWh ÷ 365 days = 8.6 kWh/day
  3. Multiply daily energy savings in kWh/day by the number of days remaining in 2011:
    8.6 kWh/day × 358 days = 3,078 kWh

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Our New Adoption

Well, that Federal tax credit really sealed the deal. Last month, we happily welcomed our new GeoSpring hybrid water heater into our home. She's a real beauty. Because there is a compressor involved, she's a bit louder than an electric model-- she purrs occasionally in the garage after we've used a bit of hot water. And here's an unexpected upside... as she works, she dehumidifies the air around her! That should come in handy during our sticky summers...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Goofus & Gallant

It seems snow monkeys are actually pretty effective advertising. I was intrigued by the thought of a whole new option to replace my water heater, so I compared some specs between my old unit and a new GE GeoSpring. Here are the numbers according to their respective EnergyGuides:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Wet Monkey Inspiration

Hearing of the recent demise of my water heater, a coworker mentioned a commercial she had seen recently for a new model from GE. In a rather odd advertisement for the GeoSpring hybrid water heater, a band of snow monkeys relaxes in a luxurious warm water spring. Normally, watching a soggy pack of peaceful primates wouldn't interest me, but at the time, the promise of a more efficient water heater did!

Monday, January 3, 2011

40 Gallons of Guilt

I woke up two months ago to a soggy garage and a cold shower. At some point the day before, sensing the expiration of its 6-year warranty, my water heater ruptured and sent a stream of water trickling down its electrical panel and onto the floor. For almost three weeks, my family and I took lukewarm showers heated only by what little time the unit could run before shorting out and tripping the breaker on the nearby panel. Yes, in my household, preventing electrical fires ranks a paltry second behind a comfortable bath.