Sunday, February 25, 2007

Kill A What?

This post is based on one of the "blog inspiration emails" I've sent to family recently.

Here's some proof that little changes can yield big (well, relatively big) results.

On January 15th, I replaced about 80% of the light bulbs in our house with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) from Home Depot (the only CFLs that I've found that have the quality of light that we like). The remaining 20% (basement, storage, etc.) we don't use often enough to warrant the extra cost of the CFLs. Most of the bulbs I replaced were 60-watt bulbs, replaced with an equivalent 14-watt CFL. I also started shutting off both of our computers at night and when we're not home, rather than leaving them run 24/7.

Our electrical billing cycle runs from the 15th to the 15th, so I got a full month of data. In January, our electric bill was $124.65. The bill I received yesterday, with the same amount of days in the billing period, same rate per kWh, was $89.57. That's a reduction of 28%!

Now, you're probably thinking "Wow, that's pretty good, but what about the outside temperature? That will drastically affect your heating and electric." Well, we have gas heat for the house, so the furnace won't affect it hardly at all (pennies at most...solely for the blower), but, the hot tub is electrically heated. However, the February billing cycle was COLDER than the January one, so even with the increased heating of the hot tub, it should have affected it the other direction.

So, now you're probably thinking, "Great, the electrical bill is lower, but he just shelled out over $60 for some silly light bulbs!". Well, you're right. After one month, I'm in the red overall, by about $25. But, after next month, I'll be firmly in the black, and since the CFLs last about 7-10 times longer than standard bulbs, I won't be replacing them nearly so often. So, the savings will add up even more quickly.

So, just by paying a little closer attention to our computer habits, and by replacing some bulbs, we're set to save about $400 a year. That's not too shabby.

I also recently purchased a Kill-A-Watt. It's a great little device that measures the energy usage of anything you plug into it. It's a perfect tool to assess how much power that 5-bulb office lamp pulls (322 watts!) or how much it costs to run the porch light all day long. And, at only $25 or so, it's a great gift for any nerd you know. I got mine at

Other interesting things I learned by taking some measurements with my Kill-A-Watt:
- Even in hibernation mode, our computers used about 220 watts. That's like running two 100-Watt light bulbs 24 hours a day.
- Our air purifiers use 61 watts in "high", but only 22 watts on "medium", with just a small drop in efficiency. No more running them on "high" at night!
- LCD monitors use A LOT less power than the big bulky CRTs (about a third, actually).

Science is fun AND profitable!


1 comment:

Jim Davis Hicks said...

great thoughts!

i'm tempted to make a comment about saving money on your wedding pix, but we know they were worth it ;) right???

for real, i'll be back to this blog!