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.