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Appliances Hog More Energy Than High-Tech Gadgets 688

Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "A tech columnist looked around his home and wondered, 'All these TVs and cable boxes and computers and computer gear and chargers for various adapters have to be sucking up a lot of power, right?' So WSJ.com's Jason Fry bought a power meter to find the biggest power hogs in his home. They weren't his newfangled gadgets: 'The heavily used agglomeration of PC / two monitors / printer / hard drive / speakers in my downstairs study costs a bit more than $10 a month. The PC in our bedroom costs about $6 a month. The upstairs laptop? Less than $1 — a bit more than other always-on gadgets such as the router, cable modem, wireless repeater and Airport Express. So what were our apartment's power hogs? The lights and the dryer. I estimate our lights cost us around $30 a month, nearly a third of that from a chandelier with eight bulbs. Then there's the dryer. I don't know exactly how many watts it uses, but estimate it's costing us at least $25 a month.'"
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Appliances Hog More Energy Than High-Tech Gadgets

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  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:39PM (#17292250) Homepage Journal
    If he hung his wet laundry on that chandelier's hot bulbs, he could save $25 a month.
    • In the winter my house gets so dry that laundry hung up will be dry by morning. That can be a huge saver. Of course then you have one really humid room for the day.
      • Re:Dual Use Tech (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:54PM (#17292542) Homepage Journal
        I just use a gas dryer, gas heat, and gas stove.

        There's really no other way to cook (if you like to cook) than to use gas stovetop. Electric burners suck....just no heat control there.

        I've always been curious why more people don't use gas. Is it not readily available across the nation? I've lived in the SE and deep south mostly....and have pretty much refused to even rent from the few places that didn't have gas, tho, I rarely rent in apt. complexes...mostly I rent houses or lived in a part of a house built as a double (common in NOLA). This worked out for me in Katrina...we had 7ft of water at my place, the neighbors downstairs were totally washed out, but, I had the top floor, and nothing happened to my stuff...I was more worried about it getting looted, but, was lucky and got my stuff all moved out before they got to it...

        • Re:Dual Use Tech (Score:4, Informative)

          by julesh ( 229690 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:12PM (#17292850)
          There's really no other way to cook (if you like to cook) than to use gas stovetop. Electric burners suck....just no heat control there.

          Have you tried an induction cooker? I used to think the same way as you, until I first tried one. To my surprise, it is even more responsive than the gas burner I previously had (I don't know how that works, but it does).

          I've always been curious why more people don't use gas.

          I think safety issues are the prime concern, these days. Cooking on an open flame just seems risky.
          • Re:Dual Use Tech (Score:4, Interesting)

            by raddan ( 519638 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:41PM (#17294856)
            I think safety issues are the prime concern, these days. Cooking on an open flame just seems risky.

            Safety is definitely the concern with natural gas. My brother is both an EMS first responder and part-time firefighter. He has pictures of what can happen when your house fills with gas. There was an elderly couple who were killed recently (unfortunately they died after much suffering from the burns, weeks later) when their house filled with natural gas-- the old man happened to be working on his dryer at the time. He finished, plugged it in, and BANG. They found their front door about 50 yards from the building, and all of the condo units in the building ended up being condemned-- the explosion actually cracked the foundation of the building. The fire was so intense that the firefighters spent most of their time putting out the blaze on the building next door which was caused from the heat of the original building. It was a real tragedy.
            • Re:Dual Use Tech (Score:5, Informative)

              by lucifuge31337 ( 529072 ) <{ten.tcepsortni} {ta} {lyrad}> on Monday December 18, 2006 @10:14PM (#17295674) Homepage
              Safety is definitely the concern with natural gas. My brother is both an EMS first responder and part-time firefighter.

              Blah blah blah. I'm the Fire Marshal of a small town in PA. Most fires (not just in my town) are caused by cooking, and have nothing to do with the fuel used. It has little to do with the exact method of heating, its just that its hot. It's normally because of carelessness (especially including lack of maintenence). This includes crappy old gas stoves with no thermocoulpes that aren't properly mainteined. It includes overloaded elctgrical circuits. It includes filty ranges that have dirt and buildup catch fire during normal usage. It includes imporperly installed applicnces that don't vent correctly. It includes decrepit electrical wiring in the wall supplying a 30 amp 240v circuit.

              Don't kid yourself that gas is a higher risk. Improperly installed, improperly mainteained, and imporperly used are the real risks.
        • There's really no other way to cook (if you like to cook) than to use gas stovetop. Electric burners suck....just no heat control there.
          I grew up around an electric stovetop & now, whenever I'm at my parents, I frequently lose hair off my hands/arms & burn kitchen towels because they replaced the electric with a gas stove.

          And you still have heat control, it just isn't instant.
        • by Ucklak ( 755284 )
          I seem to remember that in 2000/2001 in the SouthEast, there was a gas shortage and price per therm went through the roof. Gas was much more expensive than electric.

          I had gas heat and a gas stovetop and my highest gas bill for the month was over $400 and that was for a small 1800sqft house. The year before and cooler, it was no more than $150.
          The gas companies were looking for handouts for people to pay for the people who couldn't afford to pay their bill.

          I prefer NG over eletric for heat but that really
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Shakrai ( 717556 )

            Gas was much more expensive than electric.

            Unless your electric is insanely cheap or your gas furnace is insanely inefficient then gas should always be cheaper then electric. Do the numbers: 1 therm = 100,000 btus = 29.307107 kWh. At $0.08/kWh that therm costs $2.34 with electric. The highest I've ever seen gas prices around here was about $1.20/therm.

            Now that calculation doesn't take into consideration how efficient your gas furnace is. New model gas furnaces can achieve >95% efficiency. They su

        • Re:Dual Use Tech (Score:4, Insightful)

          by inviolet ( 797804 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMideasmatter.org> on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:18PM (#17292980) Journal
          I've always been curious why more people don't use gas. Is it not readily available across the nation? I've lived in the SE and deep south mostly....and have pretty much refused to even rent from the few places that didn't have gas, tho, I rarely rent in apt. complexes...mostly I rent houses or lived in a part of a house built as a double (common in NOLA).

          Bingo. In a typical apartment complex with 16 units per building, all fire risks are multiplied 16x, because a single tenant can burn down all 16 tenants' apartments. So anything that significantly lowers the fire risk gives a bigger payoff.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jfengel ( 409917 )
          Some electric burners come with dials, rather than buttons, and they have perfectly fine heat control. In fact, I find that they do better at the low end: I can lower the burner so low that I can practically put my hand on it. It's much easier to keep things simmering without becoming a rolling boil, and I can melt chocolate without a double boiler. And I don't have to invest in copper-sandwiched $300 pots to distribute the heat evenly or risk a burned ring in the center of my pot.

          Where electric really suc
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ameline ( 771895 )
            My gas stove is 15,000 btu per burner -- that's 60,000 for the top plus another 30,000 for the oven. (Needed a new gas meter when it was installed :-) It's just a small (30") Viking.

            If you work out how many amps of current at 240V that would be, it will surprise you -- You'd need to run awg 3 or 4 wire to your stove to get that kind of heat from electricity (without heating up the wires to the point of setting your house on fire).

            For those interested in the numbers, it's 109.875 amps at 240V to get you to
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      All he really needs to do is buy a high power laptop, preferably Dell with Sony made batteries, and set that on top of his clothes, they'll be dry faster than they would with the dryer and it would cost less!

      Yet another reason to upgrade, multiple uses! "Hey dude! You're laptop gets hot!" "Yeah, I disabled the fans so I could dry my clothes and cook my food with it, now I only need it, a washer and a dishwasher and I've got everything I need!"
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by kjart ( 941720 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:40PM (#17292274)

    He owns a PC and a hard drive. The Wall Street Journal must be paying rather well, nowadays.

  • Lights? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Quila ( 201335 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:41PM (#17292288)
    Time to get those compact fluorescents. I have them in all but a few of the sockets in my house, and I estimate they save me big $$ given how much we have the lights on (there's almost always someone home, and I'm a night owl).
    • Re:Lights? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:43PM (#17292326) Homepage Journal
      Yep old style lights are a huge waste. Not only that but the compact fluorescent seem to last much longer.
      • Re:Lights? (Score:4, Informative)

        by polar red ( 215081 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:13PM (#17292866)
        fluorescent are being caught up by LED's now.
    • by Quila ( 201335 )
      RTFA I guess. But why is he thinking about switching rather than switching? Each month he waits, that's enough money to buy a few compact fluorescents. After a year, most of his house will be switched over.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oni ( 41625 )
      I've converted most of my house - but I keep wondering what's going to happen to all that mercury once they do eventually wear out. I'm not aware of any place in my town that will recycle them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by soft_guy ( 534437 )

        I've converted most of my house - but I keep wondering what's going to happen to all that mercury once they do eventually wear out. I'm not aware of any place in my town that will recycle them.

        Depends on where you live, but usually you want to call the people that run your local dump. They will be able to tell you the correct way to dispose of hazardous waste in your area.

        My wife switched us completely to compact flourescents a few years ago. It has saved a bunch of money.

      • Break open the bulb and put the mercury in a mason jar for future recycling? They put a single drop in a fluorescent bulb. Depending on how many you go through, you might have to recycle it before you die.

        What I want to know, is it possible to make CFLs that oscillate above 60Hz? Fluorescent lights flicker too much for my tastes.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dfn_deux ( 535506 )
        Not sure where you are located.... But, for most of us Americans and Europeans you can bring your burnt CFLs (used up alkaline batteries too for that matter) to your local Ikea store where they will accept the waste for proper disposal free of charge.

        I don't work for Ikea, I just like referring others to free resources that help people be more responsible in their consumption behaviors.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Line_Fault ( 247536 )
      I put compact fluorescents in every light possible in my place after our renovation. The only other lights are the halogens in the kitchen. They are new 15w ultra compacts which emulate a 75w bulb, I thought this was better than the 13w -> 60w, a lot brighter for 2 watts!

      It was around $20CDN for 8 of them.

      They also produce a nice white light, not yellow!

      But, now that I'm not producing incredible amounts of heat from light bulbs, how much more does it cost in natural gas to heat my house?
    • Okay, but why would you want to put up with such crappy lighting that makes a buzz? (I know, I know, "you can't hear it". Probably from torturing your ears with loud bass music all your life, but some of us have more sensitive hearing.)
    • This is absolutely true. We switched all our lights to compact fluorescents and our electricity bill dropped 40%. I'm giving them to my family as stocking stuffers this year.
    • I have a few CFs in my house. Unfortunately, they won't fit many of my existing fixtures, especially ceiling fans. My experience has been that they may be cheaper to run, but cost more and burn out just as frequently as regular bulbs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 )
        They now make CF's that fit. Check at lowes or home depot.

        There are a wide variety of form factors available these days.

        They make teeny ones that fit in cieling fan and candle type settings, bulb size ones, they make cold white, cool white, warm, and very warm lights. etc.
    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )
      I agree.

      I am suprised that incandesent bulbs are even legal to sell (I will probably get crap for this). The percentage of electricity saved for a gas house is huge. I do admit that in my bathroom the slower turn on and lower brightness/size ratio causes a mild annoyance, but even if I left them on all the time I would be saving overall in my house (I don't it just takes about 30 seconds to get decent brightness in the bathroom at night).

      The only places I still use incandesent are the dimmed kitchen ligh
  • a great reason to invest in energy saving lightbulbs i would think.
  • by radl33t ( 900691 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:44PM (#17292352)
    This isn't a suprise at all. Residential energy use is well documented in the EIA's Residential Energy Consumption Survey [doe.gov]. The DOE runs these once every 4 or 5 years. Heating > A/C > Lights/Fridge/Cook/Clothes > gadgets.

    Things might change as people consume their 8h/day TV on 60" plasma space heaters.
  • Use a dimmer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lpangelrob ( 714473 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:46PM (#17292382)
    I'm about done with replacing the light bulbs (that I can) from incandescent to fluorescent, but we have a smaller chandelier that's hooked up to a dimmer. I generally keep it at 75% of full power. The light bulbs also last longer because (hearsay warning!) apparently, the fact that the lights don't flip on/off immediately helps the bulbs not burn out as quickly.

    Anyways, somewhat on topic, I hear that in California all new development and remodeling requires fluorescent lighting. Is that true?
    • I'm not sure if the California building code requires fluorescent lighting for homes and remodels. The electric company did a free energy check on my apartment earlier this year. My appliances were up-to-date on energy standards, got new weather striping on the front door, got five CF bulbs even though all my lights are CF, and a 20% discount on my bill. I got five computers with two monitors, two aquariums, and the usual video game/TV set up. My monthly bill is only ~$35 each month.
    • by julesh ( 229690 )
      Anyways, somewhat on topic, I hear that in California all new development and remodeling requires fluorescent lighting. Is that true?

      Not sure about California, but here in the UK new building requires a "low energy" lighting installation. This can be either CF or a halogen type that provides efficiency about halfway between the two. You may find this is a useful alternative for your dimmable lighting, BTW.
    • Re:Use a dimmer (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HuskyDog ( 143220 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @07:32AM (#17298478) Homepage

      Many of the other replies to this post are at best mis-informed. So, here are the facts.

      1) Reducing the power to incandescent bulbs via a dimmer does not save money. It is true that you use less power, but as you reduce the voltage the efficiency of the bulb goes down. Wikipedia has an article [wikipedia.org] on this with some handy power laws. If we apply these to the example case (75% of the voltage, assume 100W bulb) we get only 38% of the light (i.e. about what we would get from a 40W bulb), but we consume 63W of electricity. Of course, the bulb will now last for about 100 times as long. Perhaps the original post didn't mean 75% of the voltage, but instead 75% of the light. Doing the maths for this case we get: 88W and 3.8 times lifetime.

      Note that the above lifetime extensions are purely a result of the lower voltage and nothing to do with flipping on and off. You will get the advantage even if you leave the bulb on all the time. But, since bulbs cost more to run than they do to buy and replace (except in special cases such as traffic lights) then reducing the voltage is a false economy. You would be better off simply buying some lower wattage bulbs or better still getting some compact flourescent lamps instead.

      When I first knew my wife she lived in Estonia and her bedroom was fitted with a very clever scheme for dimming the lights (something which I often wanted to do!). Her light fitting had three bulbs connected to a double wall switch. One switch operated a single bulb and the other controlled the other two. One could therefore have 1, 2 or 3 bulbs and they would always be running at optimum efficiency. I suspect that limited Soviet domestic technology was the motivation behind this scheme rather than power efficiency, but it worked very well. Sadly, although several of the rooms in the flat are still wired for this scheme, you can no longer buy the special multi-wired fittings. I have offered to modify my mother-in-laws new lights, but she is reluctant.

      Finally, can I point out that dimmer switches do not rely on resistance. If they did then they would get very hot! Most use electronic components called triacs [wikipedia.org], which are essentialy switches which can be controlled in such a way as to permit current to flow for only part of each half cycle of the AC voltage. This reduces the average voltage and for incandescent bulbs this is what matters.

  • Irrelevance (Score:5, Funny)

    by silentounce ( 1004459 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:46PM (#17292390) Homepage
    I fail to see this article's relevance to the Slashdot userbase. Being nocturnal, underground dwellers we have no need of light other than the soft glow of our displays and diagnostics. As for the rest of our energy needs, we tap into the power grid of the mysterious beings that dwell above us. They provide us with nourishment and also manage the laundry.
    • While being a humorous post you bring up a good point. Using electricity at night instead of the daytime can be easier on the electric grid because we're not burning extra coal during the peak hours.
    • Being nocturnal, underground dwellers we have no need of light other than the soft glow of our displays and diagnostics.

      Oh look at meee, I'm silentounce, I only need the glow of my displays and diagnostics. I'm so independent and free, look at meeee!

      Well what about those of us who need our blinkenlights as well, huh? Ever think about that, you insensitive clod? Oh, but I suppose in your world, people oughtn't need their blinkenlights, right? right? I know you must look down on the rest of us, smug

  • Dryer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frostyboy ( 221222 ) <{benoc} {at} {alum.mit.edu}> on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:46PM (#17292392) Homepage

    Well, that $25/month that you pay to run your dryer (even less if you spend a little more upfront and get a gas model) is just about a wash in the long run as compared to the $1.50/load that it would cost at a laundromat. We used to spend $40/month on quarters for laundry. About two-thirds of that was for drying and the rest for washing.

    But yeah, those multi-bulb units will really kill you. Once you realize how much it costs per month to operate a 100 watt incandescent light bulb, that's the real incentive for switching to compact fluorescent wherever you can (slow startup-time and all).

  • The bottom line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rrohbeck ( 944847 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:49PM (#17292434)
    Wasn't there an attempt to force a label on every appliance saying "this device will cost you $x.xx per month if it's kept running" or some such? Can't remember. That would definitely make a lot of sense.

    On the other hand, as long as everybody I know never turns off the light in their office I don't expect them to do that at home either. That tells me that energy is still far too cheap.
    • Re:The bottom line (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:52PM (#17292518) Homepage Journal
      Wasn't there an attempt to force a label on every appliance saying "this device will cost you $x.xx per month if it's kept running" or some such? Can't remember. That would definitely make a lot of sense.

      Yes, but they're still working out kinks with the measurements. For instance I bought a dishwasher that was world's better than the competitors on the energuide/energy star scale. Turns out that my dishwasher has a sensor that measures how dirty the water is, automatically (and significantly) shortening the cycle for small/null loads. Turned out that the energy test the government ran did a cycle with nothing in it at all, making a best case.

      While the sensor will definitely help, it certainly won't to the degree demonstrated in the artificial benchmark.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rk ( 6314 ) *

        So, if I hand wash the dishes first, I'll save a ton on electricity!

    • Wasn't there an attempt to force a label on every appliance saying "this device will cost you $x.xx per month if it's kept running" or some such? Can't remember. That would definitely make a lot of sense.
      They have that for major appliances. Go look at refrigerators next time you are at home depot or best buy. There's a yellow sticker on the front that says how much it costs to run it for a year.
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:50PM (#17292468) Homepage
    It did not discuss the "remote on" issue at all. (When your TV, Stereo, etc. has a remote control that lets it turn on, that means it is really ALWAYS on, just in a kind of 'sleep' mode, draining some power, costing your money)

    He also failed to give real numbers and total things up. Sure, maybe the electric clothes dryer is an energy hog as compared to say the a computer. But it does not let us know if the dryer is twice as bad as a computer, 10x, or 100x. If you have say 3 computers up and running constantly, then it still makes sense to unplug them instead of 'the energy hog' dryer, if the dryer only uses up twice the power of a single computer. I would have loved to know relative strengths, such as 1 electric stove = 7 laptops.

    • (When your TV, Stereo, etc. has a remote control that lets it turn on, that means it is really ALWAYS on, just in a kind of 'sleep' mode, draining some power, costing your money)

      It's an immeasurably small ammount of power. A fraction of a watt.

      The drain comes from the ineffecient power supply, when totally idle. Even if your device doesn't have a remote, unless it has a heavy duty 120V/10A power switch, your power supplies are probably drawing 2W constantly, even when off. That includes all wall-warts, (

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by imsabbel ( 611519 )
        your experience with the real world is SERIOSULY lacking.

        I personally witnessed small compact hifi systems drawing 30W while "off" compared to 35W while on without any load.
    • by schwaang ( 667808 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:27PM (#17293122)
      When I measured power usage around my house not long ago, most remote-on devices used 1W each in standby. But there were some exceptions:

      A cable co.-supplied DVR uses 52-53W ON, and 50W when "OFF". (I put a lamp timer on that thing, since I don't record overnight anyway.)

      A regular (non-DVR) cable box uses 15-16W ON, and 15W OFF.

      An HP4110 fax/scan/printer uses 10-11W ON(idle), and 10-11W OFF. (Ok, not a remote-on device. WTF?)

      Stereo, LCD monitors, and CRT TV each uses =1W in standby.
  • It's old news, but it's still good news. After my utilities went up for the holidays, I decided to do some cutting back... I try to keep my main PC in hibernate when I'm not around now, I can spare 10 seconds for it to start up. And I replaced my rackmount dual p3-700 server with a laptop in a docking station, and an external HD. Sure, it's a bit slower, but the power usage is a lot less. Now if I could just find a way to properly heat my reptiles without using heating lamps (undertank heaters aren't an opt
  • Duh? (Score:2, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

    You have to be perpetually asleep to not have realized this already. Light bulbs have a wattage rating right on them. So does practically everything else except for a clone PC, whose wattage rating is on a sticker inside the case (on the power supply.)

    An electric dryer draws about 4 kW (heating element, blower, motor) while a gas dryer pulls about 400-500W (for the blower and the motor.) Any asshole could look this up with google... except the one who wrote this article.

    It shouldn't take a rocket sci

    • Re:Duh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:58PM (#17292628)
      Erm, no. The sticker on your power supply shows the PEAK wattage available, not the actual current draw, which is undoubtedly much less.
    • Hey, the two water heaters under my sink that give me instant hot-tea draw 19,000W. I can just smell the death of humanity when I turn it on.

      I've given up some of my economizing. I can't stand the spectrum of CFL. Call me when they get dimmable CFLs with appropriate color temperatures (2000-3500K) and a 98-99CRI. It's a cost I pay to satisfy the millions of years of retina-brain evolution under blackbody radiation sources. Call me a traditionalist.

      Actually, I'm not a rabid electro-hog, but I've come to an
      • I agree with you on the lighting. I only use CFL lights where I'm not hanging out all the time; in the second bathroom, in the laundry room where it probably ends up costing more than it saves, et cetera. I'm personally looking to LED lighting to solve the problem because it's easier to get a specific color out of a cluster of LEDs than waiting for fluorescents to get the color right.

        But besides the issue of saving money, there's the issue of "saving the environment", or more to the point, doing your pa

  • by raddan ( 519638 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:54PM (#17292546)
    Our dryer died one day, and since it did not belong to us (it belonged to the landlord; he did not want to fix it; long story), we just left it there and started hanging our clothes instead. We were a little irritated by the inconvenice at first, but after that first electric bill we were sold. $25/mo less per month. I made sure to compare all the transmission/generation charges just to be sure it was all from the dryer.

    Now this was in 2003. We've noticed that the generation charge has been going up, so that, compared to 2003, we are paying roughly $10 more a month for the same number of kWh (roughly 180 kWh/mo). So you'll even save a bit more now.

    Anyhow, that prompted us to walk around and replace all of our lightbulbs with compact fluorescents, and so on (saving us another $10/mo). Considering that none of these bulb have died (save the one that our landlord dropped), I think the $40 or so we put into bulbs has paid us back quite a bit.

    I did the same experiment with the power meter. I was quite surprised to discover that under normal load, my Soekris router consumed less than 1W. Very cool. The same can't be said about the laser printer (LaserJet 4M Plus), though. 700W peak, ~30W at idle. We leave that one off most of the time.
  • by glomph ( 2644 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:56PM (#17292582) Homepage Journal
    I live in Bellevue, Washington, a large suburb between Seattle & Redmond (the land of Evil).

    Almost the entire city, plus the environs, has been without power for the past 4

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/20 03482933_stormmainbar18m.html [nwsource.com]

    Thus we are major leaders in energy savings!

  • by Doug Dante ( 22218 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @05:59PM (#17292640)
    I estimate rather conservatively that my compact florescent (CF) bulbs will pay for themselves in less than 18 months, and double their investment in less than 36 months.

    That's better than a 26% per year ROI. The 100 Watt equivalents are about than $2.70 each when purchased in 3 packs at Walmart. I replaced every bulb that didn't have an occlusion due to a light fixture (about 30) in my home for around $80.

    It's a better investment than the stock market any day.

    • by z4ce ( 67861 )
      I did some replacing of light bulbs around the house and it has met a very tepid reception to the home user community. :) I bought GE bulbs from Sam's club and their time to full brightness is just way too slow. It takes at least a minute before you can see easily.

      I wish the light bulb manufactures advertised this metric on their bulbs. As it is, I won't be buying any more CF bulbs.
      • Sounds like you got what you paid for. Sam's Club is great for some things, but you won't get the highest quality light bulbs there. Just ones they can sell super cheap. Newer CF bulbs reach full brightness much faster and there are some that claim "Instant-On" on their packaging but carry a higher price tag.

        I've been replacing the lights in my house with CF as the incandescent ones die. As I do this, I put the newest CFs in the rooms I use often and transfer the older ones to places like the living roo

  • but just a moment of reflection should tell you that yes, anything that generates heat is going to be a huge draw of power. one can directly express heat power in Watts; yes, the same watts used to express electrical power.

    electric heaters are usually 1500 watts. light bulbs from 60 to 100 watts. appliance motors in the home are around 1/4 to 1/2 horsepower (1 horsepower ~= 746 watts).

    let's keep this in terms of heat for a second. in case you're wondering what uses more power -- your hair dryer or wire
  • by CaseyB ( 1105 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:03PM (#17292708)
    I've spent time thinking about this recently.

    Assuming that you're spending money heating your house in the winter, isn't it effectively impossible to "waste" electricity? Any electricity you consume is going to end up as heat (minus an irrelevant amount as light and kinetic energy), which you want anyway.

    Of course, if your main heat source is not electricity (e.g. gas), electricity might be slightly more expensive. But I think the basic idea holds.
    • by bcattwoo ( 737354 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:16PM (#17292922)
      That does hold to some extent, but I think you are underestimating how much electric resistive heating can cost compared to other methods. I have a heat pump which will run with a coefficient of performance of around three for the usual winter weather around here, meaning it requires three times less electricity to run than straight resistive heating. Gas heating is still a bargain compared to electric in most places. Plus, don't forget that if one lives someplace where A/C is needed in the summer, the A/C will have to run even longer to get rid of that waste heat.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Sadly, few people have heat pumps.

        Ironically, many people have A/C.

        Where's the irony? An A/C unit is simply a heat pump facing the wrong direction.

        Anyway. Adding to your point: even electric heat is generally designed to deliver the heating effect to areas where it is most useful. As opposed to heating your ceiling.

        Even it everything broke even, CF bulbs are nearly cheap enough (if not ARE cheap enough) to offset the cost of replacing the 5 or six incandecent bulbs which would be required in the CF's place
  • Your dryer, which uses a big 3 to 4 pronged monstrosity of a power cable didn't strike you as an obvious one of the most power hungry devices in your home? You though it might be the thing that plugs into a 150W 12V DC adapter instead?
  • The Moxi cable box from Charter is always on - theres literally no off switch. The power button on the remote only controls the TV. Its bizarre - why have the box site there and decode HD all day rather than sleep? T least my old DirectTV Tivo had a standby mode. What a big waste of electricity. I wonder how much that costs me every month?
  • I was going to comment on CFLs, but the article already did. (That'll teach me to read the article, huh?)

    But aside from more energy-efficient appliances (and lights), I really do have to wonder how much energy could be saved by just hooking up rooms to motion detectors.

    I'm in my 30s, and growing up I often heard my Dad complain about rooms with the lights left on. Lately, I've been seeing advertisements from my power company about energy savings from turning off ceiling fans in rooms when no one is there.

  • Energy Star Appliances...
    CF Replacement Bulbs
    Gas Dryer

    Those three things will annihilate your electric bill.


    We recently replaced our twenty year old 15 cf* fridge with a 20cf energy start. Power usage went from 1500kwh/year to 425kwh/year. And the old fridge had new seals, was kept away from the stove, vents, and all that. Insane how much we've saved. Sure, it costs $450 plus delivery - but as long as you don't put it on a butt-raping credit card, your fridge will pay for itself in less than five y
  • I agree that the clothes dryer has the highest energy consumption in the house... but luckily I have a high efficiency dryer. It uses half the amount of energy that a normal drier uses! Here is the scoop on how the awesome technology works:

    You have a knob that controls the timing for your dryer. The old energy inefficent dryers used to to have the knob labeled so that it had one normal cycle - Dry. But then they decided to relabel the knob to that there is TWO cycles painted above the knob: 50% of the arch
  • I just saw a Mythbusters this weekend where they challenged the "myth" that you save money by leaving the lights on rather than turning them off.

    They busted that myth wide open. They found that the energy it takes to start up the lightbulb is infinitesimal for all but the fluorescent bulbs, and the fluorescent loses any savings after only 23 seconds (i.e. if you are out of the room for more than 23 seconds, you are wasting money). Basically, it took very little power to start up the bulb, despite what the
  • The power situation for electronics is not as bad as it used to be. Standby power modes are becoming more effecient, so the electronics we leave on are becoming less wasteful. That said, there are a couple things to add to the article.

    First, a dryer is in a class of it's own. It will suck electricity, but only when it is being used. Same things with lights. And both are very deterministic. If they are not being used, they will not use electricity. And often these things are not, in fact, being used

  • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:22PM (#17293024) Homepage
    So you do not know how many watts your dryer is, yet take the liberty to 'estimate' the $25 figure.

    I would start with reading the wattage close to the handle.
  • Evidently (Score:4, Funny)

    by Cutting_Crew ( 708624 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:23PM (#17293048)
    he doesnt have a 30" Inch LCD screen as his computer monitor and a dual-core GeForce 7900 GTX with 512 MB RAM and a 7.1 Surround Sound System.
  • Hierarchy is: (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:08PM (#17293742) Journal
    The hierarchy of power consumption is:
      - Electric heating (resistive heating: Driers, room heaters, heating appliances.)
      - Motors
      - Lighting
      - Consumer electronics.

    Electric heating (by resisitance heaters) consumes an ENORMOUS amount of power.

    Switching from electric to gas drying (so the electric load is just the motor) will cause a big savings in the electric bill, while the gas bill won't go up anywhere neer enough to compensate. Ditto (even more so) if the house has electric heat.

    Same is true of the other heating appliances (hair driers, toasters, stoves and ovens, etc.) But (except for ovens if you do a LOT of baking) they tend to only run a short time so it doesn't make all THAT much difference on your bill.

    Motors are the next big load. Air conditioners are the worst, due to the heat pump. But moving anything around (even air) is costly. One horsepower is almost exactly 3/4 KW (and motors can be very efficient - 80s to 90s percent - but they're still not lossless). (Nevertheless, using a heat-pump for HEATING - especially if the weather outside is above freezing or so - uses a lot less power than resistive heating. But except for merely cool days it's still more expensive than gas.)

    Lighting is next. Incandescents are especially hot heaters, and the light is the visible part of the hot-wire glow. Much more is heat. Switch to fluorescents (compact or otherwise) and you get about four times as much light per watt. (LEDs may beat that in a few years but right now they're trailing fluorescents.)

    Consumer electronics is 'way down there - because it's improved a lot and because there has been serious effort to increase its efficiency and reduce its losses - as well as to reduce localized heating of the components. (When I got my first linux box it was a good space heater - and most of that was the disk drive. Nowdays things take a LOT less power.) With cheap semiconductors modern power supplies are now highly-efficient switching-mode devices, which also helps a lot.

    (Other appliances have also been re-engineered for efficiency, so switching to a modern large appliance may save you significant power and/or fuel. But electronics has had a much bigger improvement.)
  • by ProppaT ( 557551 ) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:22PM (#17296154) Homepage
    Recently I bought a Fisher and Paykel washing machine from an appliance outlet store. It's quite the unique little washing machine. Instead of having a clutch and transmission, it runs off of a brushless electric motor. This thing spins and spins fast! The ending cycle spins the clothing at 1000RPM to sling all the water and soap out of them. Since this purchase, my clothes take about 1/2 the time in the dryer that they used to. Instead of pulling out soaking wet clothes from the washer, my clothes are only a few steps from being dried. I have a dryer with a moisture sensor built in, so they spend no more time than they have to in the drying cycle. I actually prefer them to be slightly damp so that, when they fully dry, they will be wrinkle free. I seem to be saving an average of $10 a month on electricity, and my clothes have never been so soft and clean smelling....
    • Dude, just have a shower with your cloths on, get 100% wet, take them off, and hand wrince them dry.

      Place them on a clothes rack and they will dry indoors in hours.

      1) no washer needed, just uses soap from shower
      2) no dryer needed, all natural
      3) you wash in FIFO order, not 5 days worth at a time.
      4) you save water
      5) its dry by the morning to wear again, so you only need 2 pairs of everything at most

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