Well, it’s been over three months now since we have made a concerted effort to reduce our electricity consumption in our home. I got the idea to try it from an insert in my bill from my energy provider. Further research led me to a more detailed post from EcoExistent that I used to find the what they call “vampire power”, or stand-by power consumption examples below:
- Cell phone chargers pull 1 watt/hr when plugged in not charging a phone.
- DVD players, when plugged in, but turned off pull 7 watt/hr.
- TV’s pull 10 watts/hr. while plugged in and turned off.
- Computer monitors can pull 11 watts/hr. while on standby.
- A Desktop Computer pulls 15 watts/hr. plugged in but not turned on.
According to one of the DOE‘s web pages, stand-by power can account for as much as 20% of home energy usage. There are many sites out there that also list power consumption by common household appliances and equipment. Here’s one from another US DOE web page.
We first started paying attention a few years ago, and I thought we were doing pretty well. Most of our lights (including recessed lighting) are now florescent, and we are pretty good about turning off lights and the TV when we leave the room. But armed with this new information I went to work.
As I looked around, I realized we were leaving many, many chargers plugged in 24/7. Not only cell phone chargers, but my sons’ iPod chargers, chargers for electric razors, hand-held games, rechargeable battery chargers, camcorders, blue tooth devices… Everywhere I looked, I found an unused charger pulling electricity on the AC side of the charger transformer. Solution: I consolidated many of them onto power strips and flip the switch when not in use. I added a power strip at the stereo, at each TV and on the Desktop PC in my office. In the kitchen, we now keep less-used appliances (like the bread maker) unplugged until we need them.
My primary time to “clear” the house is just before bedtime, ensuring 6-8 full hours of minimal stand-by waste. Often times, this means many items stay unplugged until they are needed, sometimes as late as the next evening. It all seems like a lot of work, but once you get a routine, it isn’t too bad.
So here’s a typical just before bed walk-through in the Eco-Trash home: As I’m locking up, I flip off the family room TV power strip switch and everything (except our TIVO! It has to remain on, so I plug it directly into the wall) is off with one simple click. I pass by the stereo and flip the power strip along side the system. I finish locking up the house and head upstairs. In the office/den, I turn off the power strip I set up for my youngest son’s ‘wires nest’ he calls his gaming place. I power down the family desktop PC and flip off power strip switch. Lastly, I head into my oldest son’s room to power down and flip the power strip for his desktop and monitor (which also disconnects his wad of electronic charging devices). Then I turn off his fan, switch off his closet light and (aha!) un-plug his cell phone charger that he keeps by the bed.
So what were the results?
In terms of reduced energy, we went from 33.6 kilo-watt hours (kWh) per day last year to 24.1 kWh per day this year. That’s a 28% reduction in our electric usage, a total of 855 kWh this quarter. That is enough electricity to burn a 100 watt light bulb 11 hours a day for over 2 years.
Let me tell you, in today’s economic climate, being green can save the green! Our energy provider charges us with a graduated billing process; the price per kWh goes up at each tier of usage (see below). The energy we save comes from the upper tiers with this billing process.
This is from our April 2009 bill.
Baseline Usage 327.60 kWh @ $0.11531
101-130% of Baseline 98.28 kWh @ $0.13109
131-200% of Baseline 179.92 kWh @ $0.25974
201-300% of Baseline 0.00 kWh @ $0.35443*
That means as you reduce your upper tier energy usage, you gain significant savings. I looked at the first 3 months of this year and estimated we saved at least $74 per month! *Actually we saved more than that because we were able to stay out of the 201-300% tier which as you can see runs over 35 cents per kWh!
This result has re-fortified my resolve to do even better in the coming months. (I know there were several nights where I forgot to shut things down…not any more!)
If you try this, let me know how it works out for you.
Chad M. Wall