Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kilowatt Killing

Always looking for a new way to save energy… but often feel like I have ‘picked all the low hanging fruit’. Enter the Kill-a-Watt meter, which I was able to check out for free from my local library. It’s a small device that you plug your appliances into that gives you a read out of how many watts of power they draw… on or off. That’s the key here, there are so many appliances that are energy “vampires”, sucking power even when they’re turned off. I’ve got a few power strips for my television and cable and my desk, so that I can hit the kill switch when I’m done for the day, but for items plugged directly into the wall socket, I wanted to find out exactly what was up.

Reading Lamp with a 60 watt incandescent bulb: 57 watts,
With a compact fluorescent bulb (comparable luminance to 40 watt bulb): 9 watts
With a LED bulb (comparable luminance to 40 watt bulb): 6 watts
Verdict: it’s easy to see that the CFL and the LED bulbs are HUGE power savers. This was my first foray into the LED bulb and they are expensive (I got a deal for a $12 bulb, but the 60 watt equivalent would have been $40), but the power savings is considerable. The enclosed CFL I originally bought was too noisy but will switch some lamps to the coil versions. I now know that 40 watt equivalent is just not bright enough for my needs. Lesson learned.

Christmas Lights: regular incandescent 38 watts, LED version 3 watts.
Verdict: another considerable savings. I plug these in for a good 6-8 hours a day (I like the way the light it makes my house look!) The LED version aren’t cheap compared to the old fashioned kind (for a strand of 100: $25 versus $3!!) but again the energy savings will add up.

Refrigerator: as it sits idle: 0 watts, when running 400 watts.
Verdict: Can’t do much about that, living in a colder climate, it kicks off less frequently. But my next fridge will definitely be a more compact version and a higher Energy Star rating.

Computer on: 30 watts
and Printer: on but idle or off: 3 watts, printing: 15 watts
Verdict: No brainer here, unplug them both when not using!

Television: off 6 watts, on 150 watts.
Verdict: Another easy way to save, just unplug that TV when it’s not in use!

Dehumidifier: a necessity living in a damp climate with a finished basement…off: 1 watt, running: 390 watts.
Verdict: I’m most likely just going to keep this one plugged in all the time, since the unit has a humidity sensor telling it when it needs to run.

Electric Space Heater: Here’s the doozy: off: 0 watts, Running on low power: 860 watts, on high power: 1500+!
Verdict: easy to see here that electric isn’t the most efficient way to heat. I’m only using this one sporadically for little quick blasts of heating.

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