Listen to the Frog

The cover story for the latest National Geographic was Saving Energy. It touches on how much energy is wasted at the home – up to 8 percent – which not only emits wasteful pollution but can really impact the bottom line. It’s no secret that Steph and I are ‘Green’ people. We walk everywhere we can, buy local, and generally are good stewards to the Earth. The article spurred me to do a test though.

I visited Luther’s Sustainability Coordinator and borrowed a Kill A Watt meter. Yesterday, we hooked it up to our entertainment set before leaving for work. Our collection isn’t much different than other people’s – a 29″ television, a Dish Network DVR, DVD Player, CD Player, Nintendo Wii, and a 600 watt Stereo amplifier.

Ten hours later, I checked the results. The Kill A Watt’s best measurement is through Kilowatt Hour Usage. That’s what the energy company uses when they send their bills out. On our meter, it read 8.46 KWh. That’s roughly 0.846 KW per hour. Remember – nothing was turned on (except the DVR which gets a satellite signal).

Steph suggested repeating the experiment but with the TV unplugged. We’d both heard those are notorious Energy Vampires, devices that suck energy even when they’ve been turned off.  They continue to draw power so that they can be turned on instantly, which is a convenience for the user, but not very wise for the pocket book.  A lot of devices fall into this category – phone chargers, cameras, electronic toothbrushes.

We started after dinner last night and checked this morning. For 11 hours, the power usage was 0.48 KWh or 0.041 per hour. Just a hint of what we had before. I plugged the TV back in and checked thirty minutes later. It was up to 0.50 KWh. Big jump, little time.  Proof positive that we had a vampire in our house.

With information in hand, I visited Alliant Energy’s website. The cost of Kilowatt Per Hour varies based on how much you use and the time of year. Summer costs are roughly double than winter, the more you use, the less you pay, etc. On average, we come out to 6 cents an hour.

The Results

TV Plugged In : $0.05 per hour x 24 hours =$1.20
TV Unplugged : $0.002 per hour x 24 hours = $0.06

In perspective, that’s the change you lose in the sofa vs a brand new Garmin Forerunner 405.  Each year.

And all we had to do was unplug the TV.  The dog doesn’t watch it while we’re at work and it takes less than five seconds to plug it back in.  This is easy stuff.  Even a frog says so.

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