Monday, July 9, 2007

Understand Your Electricity: Unplugging Vampires

Every "save the planet" list these days tells you to use CFL bulbs, unplug “vampire” appliances (those that draw electricity even when they are off), and sleep your computer. However, I have yet to see one that tells you the different impact of these activities.

So here it goes, thanks to the “Kill-a-Watt” watt-o-meter, a device that every would-be environmentalist should own. (See the previous post for where to buy this miracle device).

Unplugging Vampires: the only appliances in our house that draw measurable power when "off" are the DVD/VCR player (4 watts), the printer (11 watts), and the computer (2 watts). The toaster, mixer, food processor, TV, stereo, and lamps draw no power.

What then is the impact of unplugging these “vampires”? Rounding our total up to 20 watts and assuming that these guilty appliances would otherwise be off and plugged in 24/7, unplugging them for a month would save about 12 kWh or 144 kWh for the whole year. Respectable, certainly, but equal to about 1.3% of the average U.S. household's 11,000 kWh yearly usage. Obviously, in a more realistic scenario, if we consider our vampires as "off" only half the time, and running the other half, the savings goes down to 6 kWh/month and 72 kWh/year or a tiny .65 % of household usage.

Changing light bulbs: assuming a given light was running 6 hours per day, changing a 60 watt incandescent light bulb to an 18 watt CFL would save 7.5 kWh per month or 90.7 kWh for the year--per bulb. Multiply that number by 40, the number of bulb sockets in the average house, and you are saving 300 kWh/month or 3600 kWh/year, or 32% of the average household's yearly electric usage.

As I noted in an earlier post, changing half of our bulbs and being careful about turning off the lights immediately cut our electricity usage by 20%.

Simple Advice for saving the planet: Change those bulbs and get aggressive about turning out your lights.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do CFLs work with dimmers?

How much electricity will dimmers save?