Here on Maui electricity is rather on the pricey side and as my household here is hitting the 10 year mark a lot of the household appliances are starting to limp or downright fail. It’s getting to be time for replacements. As I do so I started to pay attention a little more to energy usage of the components.
So a week ago I picked up an electricity usage monitor as an exercise in better understanding energy usage in my house:
| ||P3 International P4460 Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor |
by P3 INTERNATIONAL
and I’ve been plugging this thing into various outlets and hooking up a bunch of different appliances to them and monitoring electricity usage. It’s interesting to see what household appliance and components actually consume in terms of energy – there are definitely quite a few surprises.
Here are a few devices and their energy consumption in a roughly 24 hour time span (unless otherwise noted):
|Laptop Computer ||0.5 kwh |
|External (second) Monitor ||1.2 kwh |
|Office Main Plug |
Comp, Monitor, Router, modems, USB hub, monitor switch
|2.3 kwh |
|Refrigerator (new) ||2.2 kwh |
|Regrigerator (old) ||4.5 kwh |
|TV (roughly 3 hours) ||0.6 kwh |
|Living Room AV plug (roughly 3 hours) |
(TV, DVD, Stereo, Media Laptop)
|1.1 kwh |
|Power Off AV plug (overnight) ||0.3 kwh |
|2 100W Music Amps for 4 hour Jam Session ||0.3 kwh |
The numbers are a bit surprising in some cases although this falls in line with my monthly energy usage that I see on my bill I use somewhere between 300 and 330 kwh a month in the house which is around 10/12 kwh a day.
Interesting is that the computer’s energy usage is fairly light even when in full operation for 10 hours or more and sleeping the rest. The monitor is the real energy suckage though which has 2.5 times the usage of the computer. All the little boxes we all have – router, cable modem, VOIP Modem, USB hub a couple of other switches all take up another 0.6kwh in that timeframe. It’s not a lot but it competes with the Refrigerator which I wouldn’t have thought – I always thought that office energy usage would be pretty light, but it’s amongst the most energy I use.
The Refrigerator – not surprisingly – uses the most energy of any appliance. It’s warm here on Maui with 80+ degree daytime temperatures and the fridge has to keep its base temperature through it so it’ll probably work a bit harder than it’s spec’d rating which is supposed to be 474kw a year – clearly that’s NOT going to happen (well if I go away for a half a year maybe <g>). I recently bought a new fridge and it’s interesting to compare the old and new ones. The new one uses less than half what the old one did.
Also not surprising is that my LCD TV (42”) uses a lot of energy. Those big screens eat up electricity regardless of that energy star logo on the thing. Also to be expected. What sucks though is that when the device is off sitting over night nearly a third as much energy doing nothing while in standby mode. Yup I had 0.3 kilowatt hours just letting the thing sit at night until 12 hours later in the morning. Everything was turned off, but it’s of course in ‘standby’ mode. The TV still has an LED in front, and stereo, DVD player and other things all have their LEDs on and burning. That probably doesn’t account for the energy usage alone, but it really bites that appliances these days don’t have a way to turn them off completely short of disconnecting them or plugging them into a power strip and turning everything off (which doesn’t work with anything that requires recording and time which I don’t have). As a result I started switching off the switch on the power strip – if I remember.
Either way all appliances these days seem to have this wasteful standby mode. My dishwasher has LEDs that say it’s clean (and it gets confused often enough when the door is closed to start up), the Microwave has blinking lights, the stove does too. All in standby mode with no way to really turn off except unplug or kill the power completely. Lame especially for things like TV, stereo that once off have really no reason to be in standby mode.
Worth looking at Energy Usage?
Now all of this might sound like overkill and it probably is. While electricity is pretty expensive here the actual cost of a kilowatt hour on a bill still amounts to little more than 30 cents. The biggest chunk of my bill are actually base charges, plus energy surcharges with the actual kilowatt hours not being that important (this is how they get you here anyway). In fact looking at my bill I can’t see a damn thing that actually tells me my actual per kilowatt energy costs. Everything is mumbo-jumbo’d with surcharges – probably just to keep people from figuring out exactly what the energy charges are.
I can guesstimate though since I have a few months without any energy usage (because I’m on the mainland then). So even if the entire amount is used the electricity still costs no more than 38 cents a kilowatt hour. But it’s actually less when removing surcharges and other crap that isn’t directly tied to usage. Most likely this will be a way for utilities to get around in the potential case where people start feeding back to the grid. Low kwh charges and high surcharges that aren’t paid back to users.
It’s hard to think that cutting back a few kwh here and there is going to make a big dent on the budget. But then it isn’t only about the bottom line, but becoming a little more aware of what the actual energy usage in the home is and what can be done to effectively reduce it within reason. It’s been useful to put some numbers with actual energy consumption and see them in relation to daily tasks and what energy usage is associated with them. Certainly it can’t hurt to reduce energy usage as much as possible when within reason.
One of the reasons I started looking into this about late last year is that I was thinking of setting up solar for my house here. Clearly we have plenty of sunshine and it would be nice to be somewhat/partially self-sufficient. But looking at my actual energy usage (which I suspect is fairly light compared to most people – especially if you live somewhere where house heating or cooling is required) even this small energy budget would be very expensive to cover with solar for self-sufficiency.
I suppose I’m glad I’ve put this off for some time. I suspect that there will be more improvements in solar technology and public interest in the solar energy sector in the not so distant future as there’s more politcal motivation to move to alternative energies (hopefully). Hopefully this means that prices for the technology will get a little closer to affordability within reasonable range of potential budget benefit <g> and not just as a good faith gesture that it is at this point.
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