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Computers Causing 2nd Hump In Peak Power Demand 375

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that's-why-i-compute-with-the-monitor-off dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Traditional peak power hours — the time during the day when power demand shoots up — run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. when air conditioning begins to ramp up and people start heading for malls and home but utilities are now seeing another peak power problem evolve with a second surge that runs from about 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. when people head toward their big screen TVs and home computers. 'It is [not] so much a peak as it is a plateau,' says Andrew Tang, senior director of the smart energy web at Pacific Gas & Electric. '8 p.m. is kind of a recent phenomenon.' Providing power during the peak hours is already a costly proposition because approximately 10 percent of the existing generating capacity only gets used about 50 hours a year: Most of the time, that expensive capital equipment sits idle waiting for a crisis. Efforts to reduce demand are already underway with TV manufacturers working to reduce the power consumption in LCD and plasma while Intel and PC manufacturers are cranking down computer power consumption. 'Without a doubt, there's demand' for green PCs, says Rick Chernick, CEO of HP partner Connecting Point, adding that the need to be green is especially noticeable among medical industry enterprise customers."
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Computers Causing 2nd Hump In Peak Power Demand

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  • by Drakin020 (980931) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:28PM (#25442359)

    Just change the air time of American Idol to 6:00pm and turn politics to 8:00-9:00pm

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jrp2 (458093)

      "Just change the air time of American Idol to 6:00pm and turn politics to 8:00-9:00pm"

      LOL. Scary, but true.

      That would not solve the problem, as it would just enhance the effect of the 4-7pm peak.

      Move American Idol to 6am and you might actually spread power usage a bit.

      Yeah, yeah, I know you were joking, just had to play along.

      Seriously now, the solution is demand-based control. Move laundry and other big users of electricity to the middle of the night, and charge demand-based rates (cheaper rates at night

      • by Amouth (879122) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:01PM (#25442867)

        this already happens if people try - where i live i opted for the time of use meter - where off peak power is extreamly cheap and on peak it is 2x or more normal price..

        mix that with the fact that i have appliances with timers - we load the dish washer or washer or dryer and set it to run at 12-2am .. and go to bed..

        in a 2 story house with 2 people the standard compliment of 3 comps and 2 laptops last month our power bill was 100$

        if you try there is incentive to do it - you just have to be willing to make the effort

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TooMuchToDo (882796)

          2 story/2 people house and you're paying $100/month for power?

          My wife and I live in a two story townhouse. All the lights are CFLs, we both have laptops that are on quite a bit of time, but I also use intelligent strips that shut off the entertainment center when the 60" LCD is off. Our power bill is never over $40/month. What's your price per KwH?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Guysmiley777 (880063)
          Quoting a dollar amount is meaningless. Power cost varies WILDLY from location to location. How many kWh is $100?

          Where I just moved to I'm paying $0.155/kWh. Where I was before it was $0.065/kWh.
      • Re:Simple solution. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Timothy Brownawell (627747) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:05PM (#25442935) Homepage Journal

        We will not likely be able to affect things like TV and Internet usage times,

        How long can a TV run from a car/truck battery? If electricity prices varied by time of day and/or your connection's current power draw, it might actually be cost-effective for people to run some daytime things from batteries that they could recharge overnight.

        • Re:Simple solution. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Jumperalex (185007) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:13PM (#25443051)

          I was about to say the same thing ... so here I am doing it :) But seriously you are right. The first thing I thought of was, "hmmm a bigger UPS would certainly solve the problem." Although I'd need to size it even bigger for constant charge/discharge cycles or it will die a quick death, but still the point remains ... the market for On-site power storage would skyrocket which would also help that same market in its support for things like Wind and Solar. By increasing the market for local energy storage we are more likely to see an increase in investment for new-tech and a reduction in consumer cost as R&D/fixed-production costs can be amortized across more units.

        • by neapolitan (1100101) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:25PM (#25443261)

          Car battery capacity is usually between 40-60 amp-h. That is, if you wanted to use battery power for three hours of peak, you would get (generous estimation) of 20 amp-h per battery. Your battery gives 12 volts, and, again under ideal conditions you should get 12*20 = 240 W-h per battery for the peak time.

          A standard light bulb is 100 watts. Your plasma TV may be 800-1200 watts.

          Thus to run the TV for three hours you would need five batteries, and that assumes that you could run them to dry. Lead acid batteries can produce surge power pretty well, but it would likely be cost prohibitive unless you could get a lot of duty cycles out of them.

          Looking at Sears -- a cheap car battery is around $50. Electricity costs $0.08 per kwh where I am. Thus to equal the cost of one battery you would need to produce 50/.08 = 625 KW-h of electricity before being spent. That is 625,000 W-h or 1,000 charge cycles.

          I'm not sure if a battery can handle this before getting corroded and functioning badly. Of course, this is only the cost of the battery, and really what you care about is the delta cost from night and day electricity. Additionally, people could not use retail car batteries but could get cheaper lead-acid apparatuses.

          At delta cost of $.05 per kw-h, then if you could get more than 1000 charge cycles from the battery, then anything above this is profit on the order of $.05 KWh * 1kW * 3h = $.15 = 15 cents per day for your plasma. Is it worth it?

          The short answer is no. The long answer is probably not.

          • in a few years time, the batteries from the first batch of Toyota Prius / Honda Insight hybrid cars will be getting down to about the 50% efficiency point where it makes sense to replace them.
            How about if all these 50%-degraded car packs get resold as home power storage? They're still good enough for that if they are cheap enough, and it puts off the need to recycle their chemicals for a few more years....
          • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:48PM (#25443609)

            If you were to do this you wouldn't use a Car Battery. You'd use a deep cycle. Second you wouldn't get a deep cycle the size of a car battery. Get a Fork Lift battery. 1300+ Ah.

        • Quite a long time, depending on the TV.

          A 60" plasma, probably not so great, but I used to run a 18" CRT TV (about 45W, I think, maybe a li'l less) off of a radio shack inverter and a used 12 A-h gel cell during hurricanes. It ran for somewhere between an hour and a half and three hours (I was running other things as well, one of which was a ceiling fan, which was *very* noisy due to the cheapo inverter, but it was summertime in FL, so I had to do *something*)

    • by mc900ftjesus (671151) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:15PM (#25443091)

      offer cheaper power at off-peak times. Let me use my dryer cheaper at 11PM than 5PM and I'll gladly make an effort to do just that.

      Keep charging me the same, and I'll continue to not care about peak power.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Fjandr (66656)

        It's called time-of-use metering, and is offered a lot of places in the US. Contact your power company to see if it's available where you live.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:30PM (#25442391)

    Easiest way to fix these humps in power demand is to disable stanby/hibernation and leave computers on all day!!

  • Wow. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gfxguy (98788) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:30PM (#25442393)

    The free market is actually coming up with solutions?

    • Speaking of solutions, wouldn't homes with an ability to store some amount of power locally help this situation? If you had batteries or hydrogen cells or whatever the most reasonable form of power storage might be in homes, then those could be charged during off-peak hours from the grid, or if possible, even from solar panels or other sources the users run themselves. They could then be programmed to cut in at peak hours. Of course there are any number of issues, the bigger ones probably being finding suit
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gfxguy (98788)

        I read about some interesting tech on slashdot a few years ago... a refrigerator sized fuel cell unit that converts natural gas to electricity... enough to power an "average" household.

        With all the loss in conversion and transportation of electricity, you'd think being generated locally would save a lot of electricity (since there's little to no loss in pumping that natural gas to the home).

        Moreover, I think we should begin a slow conversion back to DC (either by having a "whole house" DC converter or gener

        • by Amouth (879122)

          if your using high quality coverters (which most don't have) you can get >90% eff on both sides.. (if run at the optimal load) so 100watt's *.9 to AC *.9 to DC again = 81 watts's.. so say 20% or more depending on the converters

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Miseph (979059)

          "With all the loss in conversion and transportation of electricity, you'd think being generated locally would save a lot of electricity (since there's little to no loss in pumping that natural gas to the home)."

          The problem is that, generally speaking, a few large generators are more efficient than a whole bunch of small ones. To the extent that transmission loss is greater then the loss from using small (relatively inefficient) generators rather than big (relatively efficient) your statement is true... but

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by sexconker (1179573)

        Batteries are too inefficient to cover the cost difference (which is what the average person cares about).

        Solar panels won't get you much power during the 8 PM hump.

        Installation is so expensive that you'll likely never recoup your losses over the life of the equipment.

        If you're running your own generation scheme, you have to notify the power company so they can disconnect your house whenever they're working on the lines (or you could end up electrocuting a man on the pole). If any kind of home-generation w

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by johnlcallaway (165670)

          Be careful agreeing to those rebates from the power company. The ones I have read come with a small string ... the power company gets to use the carbon offsets associated with the solar cells/water heater for the life of the system.

          Whether this is a good trade off or not I'm not sure. Makes some sense for them to receive some of the offsets, they helped pay for it. But I'm not willing to give up 100% of the offsets unless they are willing to pay 100% of the cost.

          Putting in the solar cells and heater are a

        • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Informative)

          by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:31PM (#25443365)

          FYI, you don't need to notify the power company if your main disconnect only switches between utility and generator power (can't backfeed power because generator power can't get to the utility with the power transfer switch). On the other hand, you do need to notify the utility if you have a grid-tied inverter that feeds power back into the grid from solar/wind/etc. Note though that the utility needs to do nothing to disconnect you when they're working on the lines. NEC code requires grid-tie inverters to completely disconnect the utility feed when it detects utility power has been shutdown, so they can't feed power back when line workers are working on the lines (like after a large storm). Also, you are required to have master disconnection on the exterior of your home that the utility or line workers can lock, but that shouldn't affect power to your house if you're generating, only your ability to sell power back to the utility during the disconnect time.

          Disclaimer: My experience on this is from permitting/installing solar and wind grid-tie systems, as well as from a good friend who is an electrical line worker.

      • by AlecC (512609)

        Such systems cost money. It is probably more economical for the utility to install such systems, if they are worthwhile at all, than thousands of individual users. There are bound to be economies of scale.

    • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:49PM (#25442663)

      The free market is actually coming up with solutions?

      No.

      The fact this trend happening in consumer electronics is a boon to a straining power industry is an accident. (No, i'm not being sarcastic).

      These companies have other, more important reasons for developing higher performance per watt.

      The trend in computing is increasingly toward notebook ownership. Notebook battery life is increased by lower power consumption.

      LCD displays also eat a lot of computer battery power.

      It is in the best interest of the panel makers (whose panels end up in both TVs AND Computers) to increase the energy efficiency of their panels.

      Flat panel tv's also benefit from this lower power consumption, which also serves as an excellent marketing angle for "those thrifty tree huggers".

      • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gfxguy (98788) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:00PM (#25442851)

        So, in other words, the consumers are demanding certain kinds of products, and the companies that make them are creating them.

        Sounds remarkably a lot like the free market working.

        • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:08PM (#25442991)

          So, in other words, the consumers are demanding certain kinds of products, and the companies that make them are creating them.

          Sounds remarkably a lot like the free market working.

          Yes, but not for the power companies.

          There are plenty of incidences of interactions between 2 parties providing benefit to a third by mere coincidence, but that does not mean the third party influenced them.

          I'll let you know when the free market caters to my demand for affordable healthcare coverage so I can have more than 8 hours awake per day.

          Let me know when the free market

          • I'll let you know when the free market caters to my demand for affordable healthcare coverage so I can have more than 8 hours awake per day.

            Instacare facilities cost a fraction of what a normal doctor's visit does and handles most of the things that people go to the doctor for.

      • by squizzar (1031726)

        Power is getting more expensive for the end user. I'm not sure about the large TVs, but the next time I build a computer (which will likely be a media PC) I will aim for power efficient components as I intend to leave it on for a fair amount of time.

        In Europe we have the power efficiency stickers on a lot of things, and whilst it's not likely to be the primary factor in my purchasing decisions, it will certainly be what makes me choose between two comparable products. I'd likely pay a sensible amount more

      • For saying that this isn't free market you sure did a great job explaining the OP's case for him.

        • by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:13PM (#25443035)

          For saying that this isn't free market you sure did a great job explaining the OP's case for him.

          This guy said this is an example of a free market "working"

          free markets work on supply and demand.

          These companies are not responding to power companies' complaints. The power company is not benefiting from a free market, just a fortuitous but unrelated chain of events.

          If the customers of laptops demanded obscene brightness, more screen real estate, and high performance short bursts of computing power, they'd put 17 CPU's and 4 panels on laptops and they'd suck the grid dry.

  • I thought one of the great advantages of LCD and plasma displays was their power efficiency over good old-fashioned CRTs. Was that a fib?

    What, in fact, is the typical power consumption of various displays (CRT, plasma, LCD direct-view, LCD projector, white light-source DLP, LED-source DLP, etc.)? Which gadgets should I most concern myself with turning off first?

    Schwab

    • Re:Stupid Question (Score:4, Informative)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:38PM (#25442499) Homepage Journal

      I think that the problem is that very few people have 13 to 17 inch LCD TVs anymore.
      They are more power efficient but bigger. THe back light is the real killer.

      • This is because they are all wide screen instead of 4x3, so the diagonal measurements used on these new screens exaggerate their size. 42" plasma screens roughly equate to a 27" normal CRT.

        (never mind the fact most broadcasts are still 4x3 and get "squished" because most of these TV's are pieces of *explative deleted*)

        • by Pope (17780)

          Not really. I had a 27" CRT television that I wanted to replace with an LCD of the same screen height, so I got a 32" widescreen. I don't know where you got your 42" figure from, that would have the same height as a 35" 4:3 screen.

      • Re:Stupid Question (Score:4, Informative)

        by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:33PM (#25443387)

        As TV manufacturers move from Cold Cathode Fluorescent backlights to OLED backlights, you'll see a significant drop in power use. What really needs to be dropped is standby power, which is being sucked up the whole time the TV is off.

      • Re:Stupid Question (Score:5, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:37PM (#25443443)
        This is the bain of all energy conservation... it all just gets used up to make stuff bigger and better:

        1) More efficient drivetrains for cars -> we immediately think "kewl, now I can use a bigger motor and go 0-60 in 4 seconds!"
        2) Lower power semiconductors just let us ramp up the GHz.
        3) Better insulated homes, we buy bigger homes with more empty rooms.
        4) Ultimately now matter how energy efficient we become, it will just make the carrying capacity that much higher (i.e. more affordable to have more kids).

        All of these are good things - I like big flatscreens, fast cars, and kids as much as the next guy. But as for efficiency reducing mankind's footprint on the environment, I'm worried it might not happen.

    • Re:Stupid Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:44PM (#25442607) Homepage Journal

      CRTs are power hogs, but your laser printer is the biggest power hog of your computer system. The fuser gets up to 2k F to melt the toner on the paper.

      Plasma displays use less than CRT, LED uses less than plasma.

      A space heater uses more juice than just about anything in your house save your AC or (if it's electric) your water heater. Your toaster comes in a good second (while it's actually toasting, which isn't long) followed by your microwave.

      If a device's primary purpose is to heat something, it uses a shitload of electricity.

      All your electric appliances/gizmos are rated in watts. Just RTFM, it's usually listed on the back page. If you have no FM it usually says on the back of the appliance how many watts it consumes.

      • Re:Stupid Question (Score:4, Informative)

        by pjt33 (739471) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:59PM (#25442829)

        If a device's primary purpose is to heat something, it uses a shitload of electricity.

        The big power spikes in the UK are at the start of the ad breaks in soaps, when millions of people get up to turn on the kettle and make a cup of tea.

      • CRTs are power hogs, but your laser printer is the biggest power hog of your computer system. The fuser gets up to 2k F to melt the toner on the paper.

        My CRT is on 24/7, yet I print only once or twice a month. So, which appliance is consuming more power, the steady drain of 1500 watts for a month, or the infrequent peak drain of 5000 watts for 20 seconds? You can't look at the watts only. You have to look at the duration of use. That's why your electricity bill is in kilowatt hours and not simply kil
    • I thought one of the great advantages of LCD and plasma displays was their power efficiency over good old-fashioned CRTs. Was that a fib?

      I bet a 56 inch CRT would dim the lights of a few homes...

    • LED-source DLP FTW (Score:5, Informative)

      by raygundan (16760) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:09PM (#25442999) Homepage

      You won't find a more efficient design on the market right now. Samsung's 67" LED DLP set draws about 120 watts.

      A quick google finds these:

      65" Panasonic Plasma at 800W.
      65" Olevia LCD (probably CFL backlit) at 540W.
      55" Samsung LED-backlit LCD at 250W (note that this set is smaller than the rest)

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:36PM (#25442473) Homepage Journal

    Traditional peak power hours -- the time during the day when power demand shoots up -- run from 4 pm to 7 pm when air conditioning begins to ramp up

    But what about those of us who DON'T live in Texas? I only use my air conditioning 3-4 months a year, and not consistantly then. I haven't had it on for weeks; I ran the (gas) furnace this morning.

    And most people I know (granted, most of tem aren't nerds) turn the TV on as soon as they get home. How did they come to the conclusion that computers are causeing the spike?

    Maybe folks are eating dinner later and it's that George Foreman electric grill and 750 watt microwave nuking dinner that's causing it?

    Sorry, I didn't read the linked blagh. Were there some useful stats garnered from real research, or was it a slanted piece like it seemed from its URL?

    • Traditional peak power hours -- the time during the day when power demand shoots up -- run from 4 pm to 7 pm when air conditioning begins to ramp up

      But what about those of us who DON'T live in Texas? I only use my air conditioning 3-4 months a year, and not consistantly then. I haven't had it on for weeks; I ran the (gas) furnace this morning.

      Gee... I read that and thought "They must NOT live in Texas. In the summer, my AC runs all day and all night... And 85 degree low means no AC surge at all!

      As to "Green Computing" it is mostly just marketing. When it comes down to it, people still buy on performance and price. Green only makes a difference if it is free...

    • 750 W? That's some weak ass microwave.
      You didn't have to RTFA, you just had to RTFS.

      Then you would have understood that they're talking about LCDs - TVs and computer monitors - plasmas, and computers.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *
        TFS was talking about peak power draw. I'm far from convinced that computers have much if anything to do with it.
    • But TVs have been around for a lot longer than computers have, and couchpotatoing isn't a new thing. People cooking isn't a new thing, that should already be factored in. 7pm seems to be the tail end of cooking activity.

      Even the newer TVs shouldn't represent much added demand. A current large panel TV generally only consumes the power of a CRT of half its diagonal. A person that had a 25" CRT from ten years ago might now have a 50" TV that consumes roughly the same power.

  • 3 steps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:38PM (#25442511)

    1. Offer to sell electricity at a fixed rate by the hour
    2. Broadcast the price through the outlet
    3. Let appliances display the current (ahah) hourly rate

    • I have long suggested that appliances should be smart, and I should be able to set a monthly power budget and let my appliances figure out together how to optimally function to meet that budget.

      You don't even need to broadcast the price through the outlet to do this. Each device should be able to measure its own power consumption and if I have budgeted X number of kilowatts for the month they should collectively figure out how to achieve that.

    • by Deadstick (535032)

      You can already buy power on a "demand rate": your monthly bill is X times the peak power you draw at any time during the month. The more level your demand, the less you pay per kilowatt-hour. The peak power draw has to exist for 15 continuous minutes or more before it counts, so you don't get nailed for spikes.

      There are home controllers available that let you control your bill by selective load shedding. You set the max load you want, and priorities for the various circuits; the unit will cut off as many c

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:42PM (#25442565) Journal

    I hope that the 'market' comes up with many of the ones that I can think of.

    Battery UPS in your PC case... stores power for power outages and uses the battery during startup cycles, thus spreading the draw from the grid to less used times.

    EU just made incandescent lights illegal.

    Green design homes

    Light timer switches with built-in motion sensors and other such devices.

    More efficient solar energy. Windows with solar collectors built-in as well as LED lighting so that daylight can continue unabated.

    The list goes on. Anything that prevents a 250 watt drain on the grid during peak times will reduce the problem dramatically if millions of homes participated. Say 2 million homes used 250W/hr less at peak times for any given grid supply area: 500MegaWatt hour savings. That's a lot of savings.

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:06PM (#25442953)

      The list goes on. Anything that prevents a 250 watt drain on the grid during peak times will reduce the problem dramatically if millions of homes participated. Say 2 million homes used 250W/hr less at peak times for any given grid supply area: 500MegaWatt hour savings. That's a lot of savings.

      And if every home saves 250W/hour for five hours a day, then each of them will see about $4 per month savings on their electric bill.

      Which is so trivial that noone will bother with the effort required to make the savings.

      You won't sell a conservation measure on the notion "the country will save oodles of money", you have to sell it on "YOU will save oodles of money". Which is, frankly, pretty hard to do these days - unless you happen to live in an uninsulated house, with a 30 year old AC/Heater, there's not really a whole lot you can do to significantly (key word here is significantly) affect your monthly bill.

      • by zappepcs (820751)

        You are perhaps right, though the statement: "If every home uses 250 watts/hr less during peak times, we can put off building a 14 billion dollar nuclear power plant for another 17 years" is an easy way to sell the idea that if everyone contributes, it does pay off handsomely for everyone.

        • You are perhaps right, though the statement: "If every home uses 250 watts/hr less during peak times, we can put off building a 14 billion dollar nuclear power plant for another 17 years" is an easy way to sell the idea that if everyone contributes, it does pay off handsomely for everyone.

          Might be, if everyone hated nuclear power. I'd rather have the nuclear power plant (and 50 more like it) built right now, than find excuses to put it off.

    • How about:
      -Making cheap ACs with low SEER ratings illegal.
      -force the market to develop new STANDARD battery size formats for electric hand tools and Garden tools.
      -force 0-watt power usage while on "standby" for most electronics (eg:
      http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/04/zero-watt-fujitsu-siemens-computer-monitor-idle.php [treehugger.com])

  • In California, for instance, plug-in hybrid cars would allow PG&E to better deploy energy from wind farms. Wind blows at night here often. If demand doesn't exist, it gets dumped. If thousands or even millions of drivers had their cars plugged in, they could refuel on cheap power in the wee hours.

    This is not the same as having cars feeding power back into the grid, which is what most of the rest of the article is about. Seems like the reporter is confusing the two concepts.

    • by jank1887 (815982)
      a reporter? confusing a technology story? say it ain't so!!
  • Nonsense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gearloos (816828) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:47PM (#25442647)
    As far as I can see this is just a bs sensationalizing fluff story. I work for a multi state power utility as an engineer and we have no such issues.
  • Article blows (Score:5, Interesting)

    by inviolet (797804) <`slashdot' `at' `ideasmatter.org'> on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:53PM (#25442739) Journal

    If air-conditioning is the peak demand, which it is in the South, then no reductions to such "secondary peaks" like evening TV-watching (etc.) will help, because the utilities must maintain the generating capacity to meet the highest peak.

    Only when air-conditioning demand is brought below the next-highest peak will there be any benefit at all from these secondary reductions.

    That said, computers and TVs do contribute to the air-conditioning peak, and so it helps to make them more efficient... but that wasn't the point of the article.

    The air-conditioning peak can only be brought down by difficult measures: upgrading the windows and insulation of older homes, upgrading older air-conditioning systems to newer models, keeping the house hotter inside, overhauling older duct systems to fix leaks and the like. Those are expensive and/or painful measures, and more importantly, those measures fail to tell us that "it is virtuous to buy a new computer or entertainment system". We very much like to be told that it is virtuous to do what we already wanted to do.

    • Article costs. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ostracus (1354233)

      "Those are expensive and/or painful measures, and more importantly, those measures fail to tell us that "it is virtuous to buy a new computer or entertainment system"."

      How much would we save if all computers hibernated during non usage? Or had smart UPSes that turned everything off and on instead of running 24/7?

    • >no reductions to such "secondary peaks" like evening TV-watching (etc.) will help, because the utilities must maintain the generating capacity to meet the highest peak.

      The capital cost is set by the highest peak, yes.

      On the other hand, every time demand goes above base load the utilities start switching in plants with higher operating costs. That secondary peak doesn't require any new generating stations, but it does potentially fire up some gas turbines that could otherwise have stayed idle for a few h

  • bandwidth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drakyri (727902) on Monday October 20, 2008 @12:56PM (#25442795)
    This is a little off-topic, but there's an analogous jump for bandwidth.

    I used to work at a fairly large university, and you could watch the bandwidth charts and see what was happening:

    9 am - people arrive at work, bandwidth climbs
    1 pm - bandwidth plateaus - people are eating lunch / students waking up or getting back from early classes
    5 pm - bandwidth halves as workers go home
    7 pm - bandwidth climbs again due to student usage
    9 pm - plateaus
    2 am - begins to decline
    6 am - minimal usage
  • Providing power during the peak hours is already a costly proposition because approximately 10 percent of the existing generating capacity only gets used about 50 hours a year: Most of the time, that expensive capital equipment sits idle waiting for a crisis.

    So when customers buy more energy (actually the proper term) but spread it out over a longer period of time, this is bad how, exactly? It would seem that spreading the peak out is a good thing, from the capital investment point of view. It was a good thing when everyone proposed plug in hybrids that could charge off peak.

    What they really seem to be bitching about is energy, not power. Energy == fuel (and CO2, in many cases) so this is a legitimate beef. But the power company folks should be happy when we st

    • .. peak power availability occurs in daylight, when conventional generation can be topped-up using solar. if peak consumption is moving towards the late evening and nighttime hours, this represents a future issue.

      PHEV charging demand was seen as a good thing as the night was seen as a low-demand time. Maybe thats not going to be the case soon....
  • I can confirm this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CdBee (742846) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:14PM (#25443071)
    My employers make and sell consumer television sets.

    One of the large power companies pays the proportionate costs of our advertising for all the TVs we sell which consumes less than x watts (Sorry - can't reveal the figure).

    They do this because its in their interests to get lower-consumption TVs out there, and paying our advertising is easier than paying for additional capacity.
  • Welcome to retarded. Going green used to be about garbage and pollution -- which at least had air-quality in mind. But reducing power usage -- especially electrical power usage -- is such a bad idea I'm calling it a super-bad idea (or should that be a sub-bad idea?).

    First-off, Intel and AMD aren't reducing power to be green. They are reducing power as a part of miniturization -- smaller circuits can't use more power without shorting. Server farms of thousands of computers care about power only on the bot

  • In Abraham Lincoln's time this wasn't a problem. Moving back to that level of industrialization and population will eliminate this situation. It will also eliminate global warming/climate change, most forms of pollution and most resource consumption issues.

    It is a little difficult to build a DVD player using 1850's technology, but heck Mr. Lincoln didn't have anywhere near the carbon footprint of someone living today either. True sustainability means living within the natural limits of the planet and not

  • by flahwho (1243110) on Monday October 20, 2008 @01:19PM (#25443145)
    Ive seen a TV program where these people on an island were powering a radio and washing their clothes using a bicycle and a couple of coconuts, so why do we have an energy problem?

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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