As TVs grow, so do electric bills

P15AInteresting article about how much electricity we use. That big screen TV might just be the SUV of power consumption in your house. With all the sales of big screen TVs we might need to develop more energy saving technolgies. The average US household used 10,656 kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2001- what used the most? [via] Link.

1 thought on “As TVs grow, so do electric bills

  1. There’s a clever gadget you can get for about $35, called “Kill A Watt.” It’s a pocket-sized meter that plugs into an AC outlet, and then you plug an appliance into it, and it shows you how much power the appliance uses: you can flip back and forth between various measurement modes, the relevant ones here being Watts and KWH (kilowatt-hours).

    Watts = the measurement of power being used at the moment. KWH = cumulative power consumption over time, also what you electric company bills you for.

    Take a Kill A Watt with you when you go to the appliance store. Ask to plug in the appliance and measure the power consumption.

    This is easy with TVs, radios, stereos, vacuum cleaners, toasters, hairdryers, fans, etc: anything that’s got an unambiguous distinction between “on” and “off.”

    Refrigerators are more difficult: you can measure watts when it’s running (plug it in, set the thermostat, watch the meter), but the actual power consumption in the home depends on how much of the time the compressor is running (i.e. if the fridge is installed in a location that doesn’t get direct sun and does allow free air circulation around the coils at the back of the fridge). So paradoxically, a fridge might consume more power when the compressor is running, but less overall if it has better insulation, is installed properly, and is maintained properly (including vacuuming the dust off the coils every couple of months).

    Washing machines’ power consumption varies depending on where they are in the cycle: washing, spinning, emptying the tub, etc. And, the agitator system makes a difference, some being more efficient than others when actually under load with a tub full of laundry. The most efficient washers (front-loaders and twin-tubs) use about half the power of the least efficient.

    Dryers usually run on 240 volt circuits, which Kill A Watt can’t measure. However, they use more energy than anything else in your house except possibly the fridge.

    A more efficient fridge can pay for itself within a year or two, especially if the one you have now is an energy-hog. As for the clothes dryer, it not only uses enormous amounts of energy, it also sucks the air out of your house, causing outdoor air to come in. In the winter this translates to higher heating bills; in the summer, higher cooling bills.

    The simplest thing you can do at home to cut your electric bill is to cut back on the use of the dryer, and use a clothes line. If it’s not practical to put one outside, get a couple of those indoor clothes drying racks (typically $20 each). If you still like the dryer for fluffing up your clothes, let the stuff dry on the line or rack until it’s almost totally dry, then pop it into the dryer for 15 minutes (instead of an hour). Most people, when given the choice, prefer the fresh crisp feel & smell of outdoor line-dried clothes.

    The next thing you should do is unplug all those little “wall-wart” transformers when the devices they power aren’t in use. Those things use relatively few watts, but if they’re plugged in 24/7, they add up very quickly to a surprisingly large number.

    As for TV, the best solution is to just be more selective about what you watch, and don’t leave it on when you’re not actually watching. Bigger isn’t always better; once you’re pulled into the story, you’d be surprised at how the size of the screen or the crispness of the picture makes relatively little difference in the experience.

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