Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Brewing coffee for three mornings: 8 cents. Tracking energy use like a geek: Priceless

The doohickey plugged into the outlet here is a Kill-a-Watt meter, which tracks how much power appliances draw and how much they use over time.

It’s a fascinating little device that visually illustrates where your energy-hogging devices are. Ours cost about $30, and you can read about them here:

Kill-a-Watt has no ideology.  Democrats, Republicans, dirty tree huggers, free-market wackos, Tea Party dullards, crybaby liberals …… they all share a love of saving money.

This week, it told us our coffee pot used 0.93 kilowatt hours (kWh) of juice during the 66 hours its been monitoring the pot (three brewing cycles, I think).

That’s quite a bargain, in no small part because electric bills don’t include many costs passed along to us elsewhere. Medical care for people made ill by pollution from electricity generating coal power plants, for example. Or cleaning up the environmental damage caused by coal mining.

But I digress.

Kill-o-Watt has made some surprising discoveries. The heating coils on the roof that keep ice dams from forming in the gutters after heavy snows draw 373 watts….constantly! The small clock on the front of the coffee pot draws only 1 watt. Takes 42 days for that clock to draw a single kWh.

One big shocker was that the box for our cable television/DVR draws 40 watts on standby! That’s equivalent to a 40-watt light bulb left on permanently. My math says we can save $10 or $15 each year by turning the cable box off at night, which I do. Unless, of course, it needs to stay on to tape a 3 a.m. classic like “Roadhouse” or “Red Dawn.”



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  3. Another cool toy you might want to check out is the Black & Decker Thermal Leak Detector. Helps you find spots that could use better insulation. I'm still questioning your consideration of "Roadhouse" as a classic.