WattDoesItUse Blog

Posts about power consumption and energy conservation.

  • How to Be Green While Traveling

    Everyone loves a great vacation. Time to relax and unwind and escape for a while. Or maybe you're traveling on business and are going to be away for a couple of days. Sometimes this can be a very stressful situation. But in the midst of all that paradise and stress filled minds, we sometimes may forget our responsibilities to conserve as much energy as possible. Well get ready, because we are about to dive into ten great ways to save the maximum amount of energy while you're away. Continue reading

  • Happy Earth Day!

    Well, the day is finally here. Earth Day has kicked off and we hope you taking steps to participate! If you're a bit lost and don't know exactly what you can do you can check out our Maximize Your Earth Day article. It'll get you started and motivate you to implement some of these things into your day so you can get the most out of April 22!

    As mentioned in Maximize your Earth Day, this could also be your chance to start implementing these steps into your everyday life. Only you can make the decision to start making a change that'll beautifully impact your life and the future generation's experience on our planet. Tell someone! Spread the word! Earth Day has expanded a lot over the last 50 years but everyone needs to participate to fully optimize this idea and strengthen the movement.

    What are you doing to maximize your day today? Jump down to the comments and let us know what you've came up with to get the most out of today!

  • How You Can Maximize Earth Day

    Its been almost 50 years now since John McConnell spoke at the UNESCO Conference in San Francisco and first proposed the idea of Earth Day. It's been through many stages since then and has immensely expanded. But now we are in a present where the Earth is arguably at it's most vulnerable. Here we are going to go over numerous ways to contribute to saving the Earth that will ultimately maximize your Earth Day. First let's go over a bit of the importance and history of Earth Day.

     

    History

     

    In 1969, John McConnell, a luminary with a passion for peace, religion, and science, spoke at a UNESCO conference in San Francisco and proposed a day to honor the Earth. The first day was to be on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, where many predictions about the future were made by various speakers to try to expand awareness. It also took place in 2,000 colleges and universities all over the United States. The date was changed and founded a month later by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson to April 22 and was held that year.

    While the April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 140+ nations, inflating the expansion of the awareness across our globe. Senator Nelson chose the date of April 22 to maximize the participation of younger people, because of the date not occurring simultaneously with spring break or exams, it doesn't fall on religious holidays and for the overall enjoyable weather of that time of year.

    Today more than 190 countries celebrate Earth Day. In 2017 The March for Science will even be held on the same day, hopefully expanding the mission evermore to the entire world. While we are aware of it however, we must participate in some way and do our part to help your home (the Earth) survive and sustain. So lets get started!

    Maximize Your Earth Day!

    • Plant a garden outside. What better way to celebrate than to work with the Earth to provide you food for the future.
    • Buy a reusable water bottle. This is a great way to tone down on the plastic consumption that ends up on the ground in one way or another.
    •  Collect rain in rain barrels to water your garden or even to purify and drink! (Check the legality in your state/country)
    • Wash your laundry in cold water instead of hot.
    • Make your own household cleaners. There are many simple recipes available at your fingertips.
    • Use a clothes line outside to dry your laundry.
    • Substitute all paper products like napkins and plates for better solutions, such as a cloth napkin and a washable glass plate.
    • Support your local restaraunts and stores in your community, especially if they get their product from less than 100 miles away from their location.
    • Pay any bills you have online, it's actually greener!
    • Turn your computer completely off when you aren't using it.
    • Replace all (or what you can) of your light bulbs in your home to CFLs or LEDs.

    These are all perfect ways to enhance your experience on Earth day and at the same time create opportunities for a for a healthier life in the long run. Maybe think of Earth Day as your starting point, a starting point to actually make a change. If you think you have any great ideas to compliment out list,  get in the comments and tell us about it!

     

  • Factoring in Power Consumption when Purchasing a Projector

    So you've decided to finally get that projector you've been thinking about for months. Or maybe you've already had one and want to upgrade. If you have been searching, I'm sure you've discovered that there are A LOT of options. Choosing the projector that's right for you and you environment can sometimes be a complicated process if you really care about what you're buying and also trying to factor in power consumption.

    Just Some Thoughts to Get You Started

    There are a few types of projectors out there that you can get your hands on. The differences in these usually depend on the source of light, the bulbs. There are LCD, LED, and DLP lamps and all have different characteristics that make them their own. What are the differences in these 3 letter acronyms, you may ask. Well that part is fairly simple.

    The LCD (liquid crystal display) is the more of the traditional way of displaying content on the projectors. These types of projectors use what is commonly referred to as a lamp. But, over the last few years, the advancement of projecting and bulb technology has skyrocketed and deserves a mention. These advancements have produced bulbs such as the LED (light-emitting diode) and the DLP (digital light processing). These are definitely the more energy efficient ways to go!

    LEDs tend to have a much longer lifespan. On average, they last up to 20,000 hours longer than LCD lamps. This makes the LED more reliable because it fails less often and doesn't burn out like LCDs. Another factor is, LCDs have very hazardous mercury inside them, which is not a factor with the LEDs. LED seems to already be the best option if lower power consumption is your number one goal. Also, The LED lighting systems provide a larger number of colors and also more saturated colors, making the picture appear brighter.

    One disadvantage that the LED system has however, is the inability to be as bright as the lamp based systems. This would present a problem if you are in a room that you just can't get dark enough.

    DLPs

    Digital light processing is a solid state technology and only uses a single device to produce images. This helps in the production by allowing manufacturers to make smaller, thinner projectors than the competitor systems, which require three devices to function. One big advantage that DLPs have over LEDs is that dust does not affect them. The biggest enemy with LEDs is the dust. The filter in an LED system needs to be cleaned very regularly, which is not the case with the DLP systems.

     

    Conclusion

    Regardless which projector technology you choose, make sure you look up the power consumption of your existing or future projector.

  • Kick Off Your Preparation for Earth Day!

    Earth day is just over the hill folks. But it doesn't HAVE  to start there for you. This could be one of many opportunities presented to you to get started and making the planet a little easier to manage, and maybe even get a little healthier at the same time! So in the spirit of Earth Day month, we wanted to highlight a few products that can maybe get you started! So without further delay....

    The COLDEST Water Bottle

    This interesting little bottle promises to keep your beverage cold for up to 36 hours or more. It's also vacuum sealed and is built with stainless steel. This way, you can not only have stylish little bottle to carry around, but also hopefully be encouraged to drink more water and have the benefit of simultaneously cutting down on the use of plastic in the production of water bottles!

     

    Rain Wizard Rain Barrel

    This classic, whiskey style of this barrel is a cool looking addition to sport in your rain collection system. It has a capacity of 50 gallons, is made of Polyethylene and has a flat back to also minimize space! This particular barrel is rotationally molded to hold up against cracking and splitting, so be sure to pick this one up or one similar to it if you're serious about reusing all that water.

    LED/CFL Light Bulb

    This may seem like a bit of a no brainer. But sometimes we may fall out of the habit of staying green just like we fall out of exercising. People also sometimes underestimate just how much energy can be saved just by replacing all of the light bulbs at home to energy efficient ones. Online, these come in just about however number of bulbs in a pack that you can think of. Just order enough to supply your entire house and set a reminder when to stock back up!

    WindyNation Solar Panel Kit

     

    Out with the old, in with the new. Solar panel are on the rise and are only going to get bigger in the near future. This is one of the best ways to efficiently power what you need and the systems can be as big as you want them. However, everyone has to start somewhere. The WindyNation 200 watt solar panel kit comes with everything you need to get your start in the solar community. This specific kit is designed for RVs, cabins, boats and so forth but can ultimately just be your starting line to even bigger projects in the future.

     

    You can also see Amazon's Energy Efficient recommendations:

     

    What are some of your favorite energy conserving products that you use day to day? Make sure to jump down to the comments and let us know!

     

  • You'll Never Take the Elevator Again Once You Read This

    Do you work in a tall building everyday? If you do, there's a large chance that you encounter and use elevators on a daily basis. Do you live in an apartment building between say maybe, 3 and 20 stories? If so, This is probably the case for you as well. Even people not in these situations still manage to come across instances where taking the elevator is feasible very commonly. But what about all of the energy being consumed throughout this daily process? How much energy is actually being used and would it be better to just take the stairs?

    Now this can be a bit of a complicated question. Elevators today have a large number of variables that could change the outcome of their energy output. Some examples would be: How many people are riding the elevator? What type of lighting is in the car? Is the elevator geared, gearless, hydraulic, or traction applied? Does the system have the most recent braking technology, which recaptures energy that would otherwise have been lost as heat, funneling it back to the grid? Does it use software that plots out the most efficient route possible for each car?

    These are all important questions (but not all) that come into play when calculating if you specifically should take the stairs. Let's jump in and look at some basic details.

    The differences in elevators and their consumption can be very wide. According to the elevator calculator from Thyssenkrupp, a typical hydraulic applied elevator that uses LED lighting in a 3 story office building uses about 4,725 kilowatt-hours per year. That's around how much the average American house uses in a little over 5 months. Traction elevators are used for taller buildings and a traction applied elevator in a 40 story apartment building uses about 14,130kilowatt-hours per year. That's more than three times as much as the smaller building and as more than an American home uses in an entire year!

    Another variable to consider is, not all elevator rides are equal. For example, a hydraulic elevator needs more energy to go up than it does to come down. These types of systems are typically used in buildings that are 7 stories or shorter. But the ride down isn't totally free. When the elevator needs to come down, as it passes through the shaft at a controlled speed, the friction caused by oil passing through the hydraulic valves generates heat, which then has to be dissipated by the building's cooling system.

    In traction systems used in taller buildings, it is operated by counterweighted pulleys that help raise and lower the cars. The counterweight usually weighs about as much as the car when it is at around 40% capacity. So when it is loaded at full capacity, it needs a significant burst of energy to actually make it lift up. A full car traveling downward, on the other hand, is significantly much heavier than the counterweight so it can move without much help. So what does this mean? Essentially a full car going up uses more energy than a full car going down, and an empty car going down uses more energy than an empty car going up. The system turns out to be most efficient when the car is 40 percent full or when it's perfectly balanced with the counterweight.

    Elevators are even going to burn energy when not running. Some systems have automatic lights and fans that shut off while not in use, some don't. The average standby power rating is between 0.8 and 2 kilowatts, which can eventually add up. 

    So, how does this apply to you? Would you consider taking the stairs if it was more energy efficient in your specific situation? Basically, if you have to navigate through tall buildings, it is more beneficial to try to minimize trips altogether and carpool with your co workers and neighbors if you HAVE to take the elevator to your floor. However, If you live in a small apartment building or work in a low rise office, or even if you don't need to go that many floors up, it would be immensely more beneficial to the environment and your overall health to just take the stairs.

    If you were to simply walk up and down 3 flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator, you would save about 15 kwh a day or 450 kwh a month. That's enough to power an air conditioning system for a little over 4 hours, or even a 55" tv for 78 hours! Now can you honestly say that you can't abstain from taking a 20 second ride to save all of that energy? Try to do your part, when you can.

    If you have any insightful information on this topic or other great ways to save power and energy, get the discussions started and comment to let us know!

  • Unique Products That Save You Time and Energy

    Once there was a time where our civilization as a whole was as energy efficient as possible. Long before the outstanding advancements in society that allowed us to live comfortably and sometimes conscious-less. But the privileges in which we all enjoy in the modern day, occasionally come at a cost. This cost of course, is overwhelming energy consumption and today we have the responsibility of managing it and putting in the effort to find ways to be as efficient as possible. There is no time in history where it has been harder than now to do that, so here are a few ideas that could be just a start at minimizing our footprint.

    1. GE Z-Wave Wireless Smart Lighting Control Smart Switch

    Forgot to turn the lights off before leaving the house? The GE Z-Wave is a smart switch that gives you the wireless control to turn lights on and off, schedule a timed event or create a custom scene from anywhere in the world. This is the perfect solution to completely eliminate the consequences of a high bill just because you forgot to turn a light switch off. Of course, you're going to need a brain (or a hub) to communicate to this switch and there are a couple of options, but just to get you started....

    2. Samsung SmartThings Hub

    This is a perfect hub to compliment the GE Z-Wave Smart Switch. Not only can this connect to the switch, but can also connect with a wide range of compatible devices, including lights, speakers, locks, thermostats, sensors, and more. You can actually use this to teach your home tricks like what to do when you're asleep, awake, and all other sorts of great things. This essentially allows you to create an automated and sensor triggered environment that, in the long run, will save you a ton on the use of lights and electronics while at the same time providing you with the convenience of increased safety. A bit of a no brainer, but it does require an internet connection and is also fully compatible with Amazon Alexa.

    3. Niagara Conservation Sava Spa Shower Head

    Water conserving shower heads are nothing new, but Niagara's Sava Spa Showerhead has a luxurious feel and is actually pretty high water saving benefits. It has a patented pressure compensator that ensures a consistent flow, regardless of water pressure. It's built from a durable brass construction, which ideally will provide the longest use, getting the most savings in your home and in your wallet.

    4. Save A Watt Phantom Power Indicator

    This little tool allows you to check how much power your electronics are using in standby mode. How much energy are your chargers using by just being plugged in? What about your video game console on standby or even your laptop? Built-in LED indicators quickly show how much electricity is being wasted and help you identify the best places to save. Just plug it into any grounded outlet and attach the item you want to test and you're good to go!

    5. The Laundry POD

    You might be surprised to hear of the numerous resources that go into washing and drying your clothes. You have water. That water has to be heated so now your water heater has to consume electricity or gas to sufficiently get that job done. And not to mention all that goes into all the detergent you have to use with washing machines. The Laundry POD is a great alternative for all of that! It is a washing device that holds 6 liters of water and only requires about 1.5 teaspoon of laundry detergent. It has a spinning, washing and draining system that is operated by the hand turned crank on top and washes the cycle of clothes in less than ten minutes! There are few other ways to save this efficiently for years to come.

    These are only the beginning in what it takes to most efficiently conserve. Maybe you know of some! Let us know what types of products are your favorite for conserving energy in the modern era!

  • LED lights are affordable!

    Recently I moved into a new house and one of the first things I did was buy LED lightbulbs to replace the mixture of incandescent and CFL lightbulbs in the house. When you buy LED bulbs in bulk, you can usually get them under $2/bulb (Ex: Philips 60 Watt LED).  I found a 60 Watt incandescent online for $0.41, so the upfront cost difference will be $1.60 that needs to be made up in energy savings.

    Based on Energy.gov's estimates, the incandescent annual energy cost is about $4.80 whereas the LED is about $1. These are conservative estimates, so depending on your electricity costs and usage, your savings may be more.

    Let's compare these costs:

     Incandescent LED
     Upfront Cost $0.41  $2.00
     Annual Operating Cost $4.80  $1.00
     Total (First Year Cost) $5.21  $3.00

     

    The first year, you net a savings of $2.21/LED lightbulb installed. Now to make LEDs even more appealing, they typically last ~10x longer than Incandescent. This means that it is actually going to cost to $4.10 in replacement costs for the Incandescent, so not only are you saving energy, but you are also saving in the cost of the actual bulbs.

    Now look at your house and count the number of incandescent lightbulbs and multiply it by $2.21 for a rough estimate to how much you'll save per year (not factoring in the replacement savings).

    Besides the energy and cost savings, you are also reducing the amount of used lightbulbs in the trash as the Incandescents will burn out faster than LED. Overall this is a win-win-win. Jump over to Amazon today and buy some LEDs so that you can partake in this benefit to the environment and your wallet.

  • Top 10 Energy Efficient PC Laptops

    Going green is a great idea for those who like to save money, or those who want to conserve energy. Regardless, this list of the top 10 energy efficient laptops.

    1) Lenovo 80SF

    • Power Consumption: average 11.20 kWh per year
    • Carbon Emissions: averages 11.4 lbs of CO2 year
    • Average yearly running costs are $2.12 - $2.69

     

     

     

    2) Acer CB3-431

    • Power Consumption: 12.00 kWh per year
    • Carbon Emissions: 12.2 lbs of CO2 year
    • Average yearly costs are around $2.28 a year

     

     

     

    3) Asus UX330C

    • Power Consumption: 12.10 kWh per year
    • Carbon Emissions: 12.3 lbs CO2 year
    • Average yearly costs are around $2.26 -
    • $3.37

     

     

     

    4) Lenovo 80MG

    • Power Consumption: 13.40 kWh per year
    • Carbon Emissions: 13.65 lbs CO2 year
    • Average yearly costs are around $2.53 - $2.84

     

     

     

     

     

    5) Lenovo G50-80

    • Power Consumption: 13.90 kWh per year
    • Carbon Emissions: 14.15 lbs CO2 year
    • Average yearly costs are around $2.66 - $2.88

     

     

     

     

    6) Asus UX390U

    • Power Consumption: 14.10 kWh per year
    • Carbon Emissions: 14.35 lbs CO2 year
    • Average yearly costs are around $2.67 - $2.89

     

     

     

     

    7) Lenovo 80TX

    • Power Consumption: 14.30 kWh per year
    • Carbon Emissions: 14.6 lbs CO2 year
    • Average yearly costs are around $2.82 - $2.91

     

     

     

     

    8) Lenovo 80QN

    • Power Consumption: 14.80 kWh per year
    • Carbon Emissions: 15.1 lbs CO2 per year
    • Average yearly costs are around $2.79 - $3.25

     

     

     

     

     

    9) Asus P2540U

    • Power Consumption: 14.90 kWh/year
    • Carbon Emissions: 15.2 lbs CO2 year
    • Average yearly costs are around $2.89 - $3.27

     

     

     

     

     

    10) HP 13-ab

    • Power Consumption: 15.00 kWh/year
    • Carbon Emissions: 15.3 lbs CO2 year
    • Average yearly costs are around $2.85 - $4.60

     

     

     

     

    Is there a laptop that we missed that should be on this list? Add it to our comments below.

    Author Background: This post was provided by Carter Razink at PopularReviews.net. PopularReviews.net provides reviews and lists of the best consumer electronics. If you are interested in exploring more review lists, you can check them out here.

  • October energy efficiency highlights

    Energy efficiency highlights from October

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