K70: kWh

Though I was feeling I was walking the talk, feeling smug almost. I slipped. Frankly I started calling it an experiment in power usage. I realized at the beginning of the month that I had forgotten to turn off the water heater for days. (I admit it was nice to have warm water for dishes, etc.)

So, I decided to see how it would affect my kilowatt usage, especially with my not using my space heater with the warmer weather. Well, my meter reading on Monday showed that I used an additional 125 kWh. This is huge compared to my past several months. Extrapolating and including an extra five days in this reading, this meant a daily use of 11.7 kWh compared to 9.8 kWh. Bummer.

As I think about I realize I simply haven’t been as vigilant with turning off power strips, transferring coffee to a carafe while turning off my coffee pot and turning off lights. Another thing came up this month with my induction cooker dying. I have been using my crock pot and a miserable little hot plate. I am sure the hot plate uses more power because it takes so fucking long to heat. Oh yes, I also ate toast this last month. After several years without bread, I find myself back in the carbohydrate camp. Toast means the toaster oven and it is a power glutton.

So, I have called forth my resolve to make this next electric meter reading at least as low as December and January which were 228 and 227 kWh.

Television and the computer are my toughest challenges and I am well and truly contemplating ending my DirecTV. Like an addict, I twitch just thinking of it. I took an interesting quiz via Sierra Club today. I didn’t do so hot, but I will share the information. I don’t know how to embed the quiz that I got via email, so I will simply pass along the information.

If you want to take the quiz before reading this. Go here now.

How Green is My Screen?
  1. All else being equal, how do the three most common television screen technologies rank, from least to most energy intensive?
    Your Answer: LCD screens use the least energy (followed by plasma screens), and cathode ray tubes (CRTs) use the most.
    10 out of 10 points.

LCDs use the least energy of the three leading screen types, followed by plasma screens. Old-fashioned CRT televisions use the most power, especially if it's a way-back-when Philco or Zenith -- two U.S. brands that went defunct long before the arrival of American Idol.

Speaking of way back, give yourself a point if you knew that Fifties guitar god Link Wray used way more energy than any x-ray machine.

  1. A plasma TV uses 30 percent more energy than the same size LCD version.
    Your Answer: True
    10 out of 10 points.

Plasma TVs use about 30 percent more electricity than the equivalent LCD. As for which looks better or lasts longer, ask your favorite TV nerd -- and be prepared for some long answers.

  1. A CRT TV uses three times more energy than the same size LCD version.
    Your Answer: True
    10 out of 10 points.

True. Put your hand atop a tube TV and that warm feeling you get explains why they use so much more energy.

  1. An LCD TV always uses less energy than a CRT model.
    Your Answer: True
    0 out of 10 points.

False, because screen size can quickly overwhelm even an LCD's greater efficiency. For example, the surface area of a 42-inch widescreen TV is four times that of a 20-inch model with the old 4:3 screen ratio. So even though the LCD is more efficient, square inch for square inch, ditching a 20-inch CRT for a 42-inch LCD (a typical upgrade) means you'll actually use three times as much energy. That 42-incher seems downright thrifty, compared to a 65-inch model, which uses more than six times the power of the 20-inch model.

  1. What should you do with your old TV?
    Your Answer: Take it to a local recycling center qualified to handle electronics.
    10 out of 10 points.

If you move that old TV to another room, it's easy to wind up watching more, not less, television. Stashing it in the garage will at least pull the plug on its power-sucking days -- and it is much safer than sending it to the landfill. Best of all: Use the National Center for Electronics Recycling to find a nearby recycling center where it can be safely disposed.

  1. How much electricity is used each year in the U.S. watching TV?
    Your Answer: All of the above.
    10 out of 10 points.

The staggering answer: All of the above. If you're not actually watching the tube, turn it off. If you don't like feeling alone, use a radio or maybe sing to yourself.

  1. How much of that power is consumed by TVs idling in standby mode?
    Your Answer: 10 to 23 percent
    10 out of 10 points.

Standby mode consumes 10 to 23 percent of all that juice. Consider plugging all your electronics into timer-equipped power strips to turn them off completely, at least overnight. In November, it will be much easier to get a fix on a TV's standby vs. active power demands when the federal Energy Star program begins including that information in its ratings.

  1. Under federal law, TV broadcasters have to switch next year to digital-only signals. That means everyone with old analog TVs needs to upgrade.
    Your Answer: True
    3 out of 10 points.

OK, this one's a little tricky. Come Feb. 17, 2009, analog TV signals will cease being broadcast. But 88 percent of all households get their programs via cable or satellite, so analog TVs in those households can keep plugging along just fine.

  1. Will the U.S. save energy once everyone eventually switches from CRTs to the latest LCD and plasma screens?
    Your Answer: Probably not
    10 out of 10 points.

Each new generation of LCD and plasma screens may be more efficient, with organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) the current just-over-the-horizon favorite. The rub comes from how big screens often shoulder their way into your house with lots of friends: surround speaker systems, DVD/DVR machines, cable/HD set tops, and game consoles like the Xbox or Wii. Given that it's common to have such gear in multiple rooms, one study estimates that homes with multiple TVs and their related peripherals can use twice as much juice as a refrigerator, long the fattest electrical hog in every household.

  1. Bonus Question: When I get my new big screen TV, the first thing I want to watch is:
    Your Answer: Planet Earth
    10 out of 10 points.


Jurgo said...

Don't feel bad about your "not so hot" performance. As a highly trained education professional let me tell you that's a pretty poorly written assessment tool (er, test). Ten points for a true/false? Trick questions on a test? Getouttaheah!

katecontinued said...

Scoring aside, I learned about the differences between CRT, LCD and Plasma. I guessed.

Full disclosure, I lost the first test and had to retake it. That first go round was worse.

I am more concerned about my kilowatt usage.