Keeping Track of Your Energy Use
Energy conservation has been a focus for over 40 years now. It is a huge step in controlling climate change, eliminating air pollution, and next to recycling the single easiest step to implement within your own home to a positive effect on the environment. The question is, from a practical standpoint, how do you actually know how much electricity different things in your home are using?
The Things We Know
In general, it is common knowledge that the production of heat drains a lot of electricity. For example, a convection toaster oven uses more electricity than a microwave oven. That is also why incandescent light bulbs use more energy than florescent lights, the byproduct of heat causes them to be less efficient. Not quite as well-known but most people now know that things like computers, TV’s, and appliances use energy even when they turned off it they are still plugged in. They use small amounts of energy to do things like maintain internal clocks and even for the little light on the front signifying if it is off or on!
While it is common sense to turn off lights in unoccupied rooms and that large appliances use a lot of electricity when in use, it is very difficult to know exactly how much. We rely on the labelling to tell us if a device in energy efficient or even energy star qualified and base decisions on purchases on that. This does not tell us how much actual energy is being used at any given time. While it is a good to be conscious of the use of power, we ultimately rely on averages and estimates in practice.
Technology to Show the Facts
It is now possible to purchase meters that show the actual amount of energy being used by any electrical device at any time. Energy saving products like these, while not needed to conserve energy if you are careful in selecting appliances and unplugging things while not in use, allow you to compare different common items and put an actual dollar and cents cost on the potential savings rather than estimates. Taking a 3 bulb lamp and plugging it in with 100w lights, 40 watt lights, or 15 watt compact fluorescent bulbs takes it from knowing it should save to showing exactly how much energy you do save.
They say with knowledge comes power, this is a case where knowledge can save you power. It adds a new dimension to your efforts at saving energy by taking it from the theoretical to actual facts about consumption. If there is a naysayer about the effects of your conservation efforts than the simple dollars and cents display will be an educational wake-up call to them as well as allowing you to do your own home electrical use survey to focus your efforts on where they will be optimized. It is also fun.