Tracking Power Consumption
by Arwen O'Reilly Griffith
Two recent posts on O'Reilly Radar caught my attention. They both talk about ways to track the hidden power consumption of our gadgets, as well as discuss ways to change how we think about power efficiency.
Artur Bergman points out in his post that most people aren't aware how much power their various devices use. He points to the MPG meter on most hybrid cars and admits that just being aware of his control over the car's efficiency makes him drive more carefully.
"This 'making the invisible visible' idea can be applied to electricity as well," he says. "There are a numerous tools on the market that let you find out in realtime how much electricity one appliance, or the entire house is using. The simplest tool is the Kill-A-Watt, available from plenty of online stores for around $40. You plug them in and they tell you what that device is using at this given point in time. More general versions are The Energy Detective and Energy Monitor house meters, both of which will report the current, average, and peak power use of your house. If you have variable pricing, future versions of these products could give you the ability to show you exactly what your power use is costing you in realtime."
Brady Forrest, in another post, talks about gadgets that automatically reduce your power consumption for you. "Things plugged into wall sockets continue to draw power even if they are off," he says in the post. "Chargers plugged in continue to draw power even if the associated device has been charged or unplugged. Until recently, I had not realized this; I doubt many other people really think about or act on this information regularly." He points out a new series of Nokia phones that will alert users when the phone is fully charged, so they can unplug it and stop drawing power from the socket. ("Personally, I wonder why they can't just detect that the device has been unplugged and stop the draw," he adds.)
He also recommends the Smart Power Strip, which shuts off the draw of secondary devices when the main computer is shut off, and mentions Lights Out, Mac software that allows you to adjust your computer's power draw.
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