Knowledge is Power!

Ok, sorry for the bad pun there, but In the last few days, a couple of things have crossed my desk that seemed really smart in terms of learning how to use power more efficiently. This first item came via Treehugger, and it’s a pretty handy graphic that lets you see exactly how much power it takes to do each simple household task, such as making toast.
To quote their article:
We know that homes suck up about 20% of all energy in the US, but the question is where that energy is funneled off to once it reaches our homes, and how much it’s costing us to run that ceiling fan or that electric blanket. The interactive tool tells you how much energy that appliance or device uses in watts, dollars, or gallons of gas, as well as what one kilowatt hour yields for that device, and even better, it will rank each device so that you can see at a glance which you want to unplug.”


(image from treehugger)

So head on over here, plug in where you live, and spend a day tracking how much your appliances are costing you.
For instance, my morning cup of coffee cost me 4 cents to run the machine. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Then I clicked to see what that was in terms of gallons of gas, and got .03 gallons. That sounded a little worse. Then I tried to see what it cost to make in a french press, but the fact that we use a gas stove kind of threw off the equation.

Next, since we just replaced our house’s central air conditioning, I wanted to check out how that might affect us. This tool estimates a 495$ per year usage cost in my area. Now, that’s probably a little high for us given that we have a fairly small house that we’ve recently spent a good bit of time re-insulating and improving the attic ventilation, but it’s an interesting comparison point, regardless. To continue where we were last year, 3 window units, a dehumidifier, and 6 ceiling fans would cost just over half that. Of course I have to admit that I like being able to see out of and to open my windows, which you can’t so easily do with window units.

Anyway, the tool is pretty fascinating, despite some limitations. It’s really nice to see from such a practical standpoint what things cost, and where cutting back would make a bigger deal. I also like that you can view the costs with several different criteria. Right now some people may be more focused on the cost in terms of gas usage, since the mess on the coast is bringing that argument home in a very painful way. Other people may be more concerned with how they can keep their power bills low, since money is still tight for most everyone I know.

This second bit is for locals only, but even if you don’t live near me, many cities and counties across the country are holding these workshops. If yours isn’t, send them this link and see if they will join in!

(click on that to make it big enough to actually read…)

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