05 June 2008

Experiments in Electricity

Before you get concerned, I'm not hooking electrodes to my kids or anything. I'm just trying to figure out painless ways to lower our electric bill. ABM and I decided that it would probably be more practical for me to stay home while the kids are out of school, if we can afford it. So, in addition to working for pennies on various internet gigs, I am trying to lower our existing expenses.

This led me to my current experiment. I've heard several people in the media comment on how much unplugging their appliances made on their electric bills. You may already know this, but appliances suck down kilowatts even when they are switched off. I didn't know this until Molly Wood from the podcast Buzz Out Loud mentioned that her bill went down by about $30 when she started unplugging her computers while she was at work. So I started at the beginning of June to unplug any unused appliances in the house.

The first thing I learned right away was that some items are more hassle to deal with than others. My entertainment system downstairs is one of them. I had no idea that my TV in the den would go through a 15-minute setup process every time I plugged it in. I expected that from the cable box but not the TV. At least the cable box reinitializes itself; I had to reconfigure the TV myself. So you know I won't be flipping the switch on that power strip every night.

Even with leaving the entertainment system plugged in, I think that I will be able to make a difference. I never noticed how many gadgets we just leave running, never mind plugged in. The three computers that run 24/7 must make up a good bit of our monthly consumption total. I've never fussed at anybody about them before now. The 70s energy crisis is a vague part of my childhood memories, so I guess I am still bucking against those suggestions to turn out the lights and turn down the thermostat to 68 :-).
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