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Old 11-04-08, 09:10 PM   #1
knowbodies
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Default Hyperwatting the House

I spent some quality time with my Kill-a-watt this week. It's been a while since I last used I figured I would do another audit and see where I could further reduce my electricity usage. Currently we use about 300KWh per month for a family of four. I would like to see if we can get it down to 250KWh per month. I'm not sure if I can do it but I think I can get close.

I started of with the easy stuff - lighting. My electrical company just sent out a free CFL to every customer so I replaced the the light bulb on my front porch. There's a Street light just outside my house that provides plenty of light so we rarely turn that light on. I'm not going to save much but it was a free light bulb and all my other incandescents have already been replaced. Next I looked at the 2 lights that get used the most, a 3 * 13W fixture in the kitchen and a halogen torchiere in the living room. Combined these two lights use 189W for about 6 hours a day. I replaced them with dimmable flourescent torchiere in the living and a small 13W lamp on the kitchen table - a total of 29W. That should bring my usage down by ( 150W * 6 hours/day * 30days/month ) 27KWh per month. I'm getting close but I still have 23KWh to go.

Next I looked at my computer room. A server, a desktop, a switch, 2 modems (yes, I need 2 modems), a small Cisco lab, speaker system and 2 monitors. The Cisco lab is already on it's own power bar which is usually off - no savings to be had there. The 2 modems, the switch and the server need to be on 24/7 - no saving there. I was able to move my desktop, both monitors and speakers on a separate power. Amazingly, these devices use 20W when off. I keep this power bar turned off for about 18 hours per day for a reduction of (20W * 18hrs/day * 30 days/month) 10.8KWh per month.

I still need to eliminate ~12KWh per month to hit my goal. I still have to look at the family computer (and associated electronics) and the entertainment center. A couple of smart power strips may be able to knock it down. I'll probably try that *just because* but it will have to wait for a quiet weekend when the wife and kids are gone.

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Old 11-05-08, 06:08 AM   #2
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Nice analysis. 300 kWh doesn't sound too bad, and 250 would be a fairly descent accomplishment for a family of four IMO. What other ideas do you have? Good luck!
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Old 11-05-08, 06:56 AM   #3
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Congrats for your 300kWh/month consumption & good luck for your 250kWh/month objective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by knowbodies View Post
The 2 modems, the switch and the server need to be on 24/7 - no saving there.
You can configure your server to use less power.

If your server is under Linux, as all my systems , you can use powertop to learn how to optimize it. Look at it's FAQ.

Between optimized and unoptimized configurations the processor in my desktop computer (an old penium IV now switched off 'cause changed by a laptop that consumes 4 times less, ie 80W to 20W) goes from 75C to 55C (167F to 131F) which does makes a difference in summer on living room temperature : 2-3C (4-7F).

You can also remove/unplug unused peripheral. You can configure the hard drives to shut off when unused (caution that they don't start&stop hundred times per day, some disks support only a relatively "small" number of starting).

Denis.
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Old 11-05-08, 08:32 PM   #4
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It's been a while since I was at lesswatts.org. Thanks for the reminder. I already stripped my server down as much as possible though. Originally, it was using 48W in standard usage but I upgraded to the tickless kernel (power consumption dropped 10W) and replaced the hard drive with a western Digital green power drive (another 4W saved). The power supply is about the only thing left - it wastes 10W when the server is off. It's horribly inefficient but I haven't anything reasonably priced in an SFX form factor.

Ideally I would like to replace the server with something new. Geode based motherboards can be had for less then 5W of total draw but I can't find any with SATA ports. Via boards are available with SATA but the prices and power consumption are much higher. I'll probably go with a Geode and a SATA drive in a USB enclosure. With an efficient laptop power supply, I should be able to hit 15W total power draw.

Last edited by knowbodies; 11-05-08 at 08:36 PM.. Reason: I forgot a sentence.
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Old 11-05-08, 09:36 PM   #5
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Sweet work so far! I'm really jealous. I need to do this to my mom's house. It's just too big, I think.

If you're interested in starting a new thread, I'd love to hear more about efficient computing. I just use a laptop that takes down 20-30w, but I'd be very interested to learn more about running efficient systems. It's something that Tim is investigating, as well.

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Old 11-07-08, 10:03 AM   #6
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Try some reading at SilentPCReview.com. Their goals - silent computing - are in line with reduced power consumption. Less power = less heat = less noise to remove that heat.
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Old 11-07-08, 03:06 PM   #7
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Well, I went out and bought a APC smart power strip with intention of reconfiguring my entertainment center or family computer. It didn't quite work out as planned and the smart power strip is going back.

A smart power strip has 1 outlet on it that it monitors the power draw on. When the strip senses a low enough draw on that outlet, it assume the device is in hibernate or off mode and powers down the rest of the outlets. So, if you have your computer plugged in to the monitored outlet, when hibernate or turn off the computer, the rest of your devices will turn off too.

Unfortunately, my family computer draws 7-10W when it's off or in hibernation which is not low enough to trip the smart strip's sensor. I tried it on my TV as well - it uses 7W when it's off. I gave up on the smart strip and it's going back to Staples. Maybe there are other one's out there that work better but APC's certainly didn't.

That said, I did find out a lot about everything else I have plugged in. My cellphone charger, receiver and DVD player all register 0W on the Kill-a-watt. My Apple TV is using 18W 24/7 - more when I'm actually using it. Since it doesn't have a power switch (bad apple!), I moved it to it's own dedicated power bar that I'm keeping switched off. I also found a power supply sucking 4W that wasn't plugged into anything - the printer it had been attached to died about a year ago. In all, I only found 2 devices that need to be on 24/7, the cordless phone base station and the answering machine so moved everything else on to logically grouped power bars.

With recent updates, I should be saving an additional 13.8KWh per month which when added to my previous totals equals 51.6KWh saved. I think I've met my goal. Hopefully the real world agrees with my projections.
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Old 11-07-08, 03:29 PM   #8
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Thats awesome knowbodies! Hopefully you have everything calculated right.
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Old 11-07-08, 11:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knowbodies View Post
everything else on to logically grouped power bars..
What type of power bars are you talking about here?
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Old 11-09-08, 11:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
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What type of power bars are you talking about here?
Surge suppressor power bars. I'm partial to APC generally - they've protected my equipment well through a couple of direct hit lightning strikes. Two strikes to be exact, that did blow out some equipment that weren't on surge suppressors.

I'm pretty much done auditing my electrical usage for another year. There's only a couple of things I have left to do. I want to replace the light fixtures in my son's rooms with something a little bigger I can fit CFLs into and I would also like to install a switched green-ciruit so I don't have to run around the house switching off power bars. My house was originally built in 1912 and needs a few electrical upgrades anyway.

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