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If you want to know what I'm on about in the shortest time then please read the introductory first post and my current action plan. Comments are very welcome. And if you like this blog, please tell a friend. Thanks!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

0.31kW and steady as she goes

I knew when I started this eco-trip that it would be important to find other people in my local community who shared similar concerns and were responding in similar ways. Ideally some of them would be old hands at it with plenty of wisdom to share.

So I was very pleased to discover that one of the other dads from my daughter's school is also keen on sustainable living, and he's a fair way further down the track than I am. He's also a nice guy. Since I haven't spoken with him about my blogging habit I'm going to just refer to him as "Mr S" for now.

Mr S had mentioned a gadget which measures your instantaneous electrical consumption and transmits the data wirelessly to a battery-powered LCD display screen. I looked it up on Google and emailed one of the suggested retailers to request a price. No reply came.

Then Mrs S mentioned that Mr S was a qualified electrician, so yesterday I gave Mr S a call to see if he knew the price of these things. He did - but better than that he offered to loan me his for a while so I could track down the energy-guzzlers that have taken up residence at my place.

This afternoon he came over and spent a few minutes hooking up the transmitter. The initial figures (including the fridge, my cable modem and network gear, my server, a few power transformers around the house and a digital clock) came in at just over 300W.

Those are the things which run 24 hours a day, and at that rate they'd account for 7.2kWh of energy - a sizeable chunk of the 8.3kWh we've averaged each day for the past two weeks. The extra 1.1kWh would have to cover all our lighting, cooking, dishwasher and washing machine... which sounds a bit low to me. Might be some room for calibration.

Even so, it immediately suggests some areas where I could reduce my consumption. For starters: I really have no need keep a server running here at home. I've embarked on a small project to host my email somewhere else so that I can shut the server down permanently and switch off the networking gear at night when I'm not using it.

The fridge is a big challenge... not sure what to think about that one.

For now, huge thanks to Mr S. I hear good things about his vege garden too. That might be the inspiration for another post sometime.


Ian said...

When measuring instantaneous consumption don't forget a lot of your consumption is from thermostat-controlled heating and cooling appliances that draw highly variable currents.

TB said...

That's true... not sure how you intended that to reflect on my post though.

Our hot water system runs off-peak, so it'd show a much higher rate during those night hours. The vacuum cleaner was used briefly and the consumption shot up to 1.7kW. The electric frying pan drew about 1.9kW and the microwave about 1.2.

One really odd thing I noticed last night was that when our fridge when into its defrost cycle it immediately bumped consumption up by about 200W for ten minutes or so before dropping back to zero for a while. I figure it must inject some local heat to melt any ice which might be forming on the... um... bits which are really cold but not meant to be frozen.