Thursday, January 08, 2009

Killing Watts Everywhere

Well, it's not official yet, so shhhh appears that Ethan got the gas job! Yay! He's really excited, so I'm excited too. Plus, he'll be in town more, which is always a good thing.

In other news, I got an interesting gift for Christmas: a Kill-A-Watt. Of course, in my nerdiness, I absolutely love it, because now I can tell how much power all our appliances draw, both on and off. Here is what I've found so far: things that don't have clocks, like a toaster, or the coffeemaker (we have the basic kind) do not draw power when they're off, so you can leave them plugged in. Other stuff, like the t.v., stereo, etc. do draw power when they're off. In fact, they draw about 30 watts of power (total). So unplugging them does save energy. I have also found that power strips do not draw electricity when they're off. So if you have a bunch of things like an entertainment system, an easy way to save electricity is to plug everything into the same power strip and then turn that off when you're done with it. Same goes with computers: ours draws about 30 watts of power when it's off but the power strip is on, zero when the power strip is off.

The most "Wow!" thing I've found so far is the microwave. It draws only 1 watt of power when it's off (in spite of the fact that it does have a clock), but guess how much it draws when you use it? 1600 watts! That's 1.6 kilowatts! That's a lot of power! Of course, you only run your microwave for a few minutes a day, so it doesn't really take too much energy overall.

I'm hoping that turning off our computer and t.v. powerstrips will save us some energy. Unfortunately, we are using more energy this winter because I got a block heater for my car. The block heater draws about 400 watts when it is on. On the other hand, using a block heater helps reduce pollutants once you start your car, and it prolongs your engine's life. So I've been using an outdoor timer, and plugging in my vehicle religiously. I think the few extra bucks in electricity will be worth the price of the car in the end.

Anyway, I plan to keep using the Kill-A-Watt to check how much energy things suck. It has a feature that accumulates power, so I plan to plug my microwave in for a whole night and see how much power it draws when it's plugged in overnight. Onward and forward, in the name of saving the planet (and a few bucks in the process).

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