Friday, July 18, 2008

Monitoring Energy Costs

We have two utility bills that we have to pay each month.  The first is for electricity.  The other is for cable, which is how we bring the wonderful world of the Internet to our home.  We have nothing that uses natural gas.  Water, sewer, and trash are included in the rent cost.  We don't have local phone service because we just use cell phones.

The cable cost is fixed, which is nice.  Electricity changes though.  Some months it's higher, some months it's lower.  I don't generally care, but I do wonder how two people can spend $100 in power per month.  I mean, we have some lamps and the standard kitchen appliances (sans the dishwasher).  Our water heater is electric and I've wondered if it leaks electricity.  We do not have air conditioning, which can contribute a lot to energy costs in a home.

We do have my office at home.  I turn the computers off at night simply because it gets too hot in here.  The laptop runs on battery and I charge it when I need it.  I have an LCD panel for the non-laptop computers.

I have some ideas about how we can reduce our electricity bill.  It's not that it's too high, it's just something I want to try to do.  Is it possible?  Are there things in our home that are using power all the time that we don't know about.  I've read that chargers for things like cell phones, iPods, and laptops still draw power even if you don't have the device plugged in.  That makes sense, but I had never really thought about it before.  I usually leave all the warts plugged in even if I'm not charging.  Could that be defeating the purpose of trying to run the laptop off battery all the time?  Maybe.

The other thing I'm changing is our light bulbs.  We have a mix of old style incandescent bulbs and newer compact fluorescent bulbs.  Replacing 60W bulbs with 13W bulbs seems good too.  I did that back in Boston.

When I got back recently from the mainland [and after vacation], I turned on the office computers here.  Lots of hardware failures, including a dead hard disk.  I've ordered replacement parts, but since I was getting a new hard disk, I decided to try one of the Western Digital GreenPower drives.  Might just be a gimmick, but I figured I'd try it.

Going back to the light bulbs... in the USA, why are watts used to measure light bulbs?  Shouldn't we be using horsepower in the US?  A 60W light bulb would be 0.08 hp according to Google.  Maybe I shouldn't mention that.  GE might start labeling light bulbs with horsepower.  I'm not advocating that usage.  After all, I am metric-crazy as my friends might say.

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