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Kill a Watt

Marc Lefkowitz  |  01/16/09 @ 12:53pm

Knowledge is power, literally. A colleague brought in a nifty little device today called a Kill A Watt-it measures how much power an appliance or computer is using. Right now, my Dell laptop is sucking 20 Watts of electricity per hour, or .11 Kilowatts for the last six hours (compared to our server, which draws that much in one hour).

I learned that if I right-click my desktop and click Properties>Screen Saver>Monitor Power and select "Turn off Monitor After 5 minutes" my power draw drops to 11 Watts (when I'm idle, which is hardly ever!). We also found that our Braun 12-cup coffee maker draws 60 Watts per hour when the burner's on, but spikes to 850 Watts while brewing a pot (the equivalent of 120 Wh). That's a pittance compared to the four-burner Bun-o-Matic coffee maker which gulps 1200 Watts to brew a pot and 100 Watts per burner to warm, or about 2.2 Kilowatts per day.

This tool has been enlightening (one can be had online for about $20)-it's fun to get real time data of our carbon footprint and be able to make informed choices about where to change behavior.

Jan 7 Update

We continue to investigate the electricity consumption here and make real changes today, including an old mimeograph machine in the copy room which is actually broken but was plugged in and drawing 70 Watts (after checking, we got approval to unplug it). We've also determined that the soda vending machines are drawing 10 kilowatts per day with the front lightbulbs removed. That lead us to discover the VendingMiser, an ingenious, $165 product that reduces the power used by vending machines by 35-45 percent and saves 2-3 tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year (In the city of Austin, TX they're giving these away). We read that the typical cold beverage vending machine consumes 3600 Kw a year!  We figured out that's almost as much electricity as a co-worker and his wife use in their condo in a year. Wow.

Jan 16 Update

We have created a page in the Energy practice area, under Conservation and efficiency to track the Museum's energy audit and share results and our action plan to reduce electricity consumption.   Follow our progress here

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