Power in the blood

You may not have known that being anal about electricity consumption is one of my favorite pasttimes.  Before we switched to a digital meter, I would stand outside and watch the little mechanical wheels spin on our old electric meter and try unplugging different devices and measuring the outcome. Seriously.

Sadly, those days are gone.  The digital meter is no fun at all to watch, so I have to find other ways to indulge myself.  Enter the Kill-a-watt, and handy little gadget that measures how many watts a device is using.  First in line to be measure was my trusty computer. In choosing the components of my desktop, I aimed for the lowest possible power envelope without sacrificing usability. My journey down the lonely path of ultra-efficient desktops led me to an AMD X2 4850e processor, running at 2.5Ghz with a maxium power envelope of 45w. The perfect mate for this efficient chip was a Gigabyte AMD Fusion 780g mobo, with respectable integrated graphics.

So how much electricity does all this add up to? Kill-a-watt in hand, I cranked up my machine and steeled myself for the results.

Boot-up… 50watts

Idle…40 watts

Huzzah! My computer typically uses less than your run-of-the-mill incandescent bulb. Under heavy load, the consumption spiked to 75 watts. For normal usage (running Ubuntu, Firefox, music player, im) it’s a very steady 47 watts. I have no complaints about performance, until I get into batch editing pictures from my Rebel- which I may as well not even try to do.

A fringe benefit of energy efficiency is whisper-quiet performance- I don’t hear my computer run at all. To make sure it’s turned off, I have to put my hand over the exhaust fan, which consistently blows cool air.

What really sucks

Filled with smug satisfaction after checking my computer, I took aim at our Dyson vacuum. It’s probably the most complicated single-use appliance I’ve ever seen, but it does a fine job of cleaning the floor. I connected the Kill-a-watt, and fired up the Dyson…

….1.2 Kw

Sweet zombie Jesus! The Dyson really surprised me- if enough people used these things simultaneously, we’d have rolling brownouts. More importantly, the foundation for Ape’s nagging me about leaving the computer turned on instantly vanishes- my computer uses the same amount of electricity in 24 hours as her Dyson uses in 1 hour.  So there’s that.

I’m not sure what to do next. Figuring out what is the biggest energy hog in the house (and replacing it with something less greedy) would be a good goal; my money’s on lighting.  Think of the savings we’d see with glow-in-the-dark paint!

One thought on “Power in the blood

  1. Pingback: The Electric Slide

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