Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Today started off as a really good day, I was taken out for coffee out in town,(while Dave stayed home to write). With lots of chat and laughs, it was great to feel part of the community.

I also got some of my requested books from the library, the Tas library service is very good at sending me most of the books that I ask for. I am taking part in the Australian 2010 MS Readathon, so I am reading some of the classics that they suggest, as well as books of my own choice. So my reading list on their site is very varied.

Then we got our electricity bill. They are only sent out every 3 months, so we had no idea that the two of us were using about 50% more electricity than our landlord and his family did. (And the same time last year is listed on the bill, so we don't have to just take his word for it.)

So, now to the questions. I only use my computer off and on during the day, should I turn it off when not in use? Will turning it on and off shorten its life? I watch TV in the evenings, should I leave it on standby the rest of the time, or turn it right off? We do all the obvious things like not leaving on lights etc already.

But now there is a glorious fire in the sitting room, and Dave attacked the big logs with our new blockbuster, so we have lots of firewood. (Until we got here, I thought a blockbuster was the description of a movie, not a lumberjacks tool!) So who can be sad, while there is warmth and the wonderful smell of dinner cooking?


  1. IF you computer/TV go into standby mode they should only be using a few watts each so your savings probably won't be significant. If your computer just shows a screen saver but otherwise remains awake then, especially if it's a desktop, it could still be using a few dozen to a hundred watts.

    The rule of thumb for converting power consumption levels into billing amounts is that 10c/kwh = $1/wattyear. So if you've got something that's using 8W of power and is on 24/7, and are paying 15c/kwh it will cost $12/year, or $3 per quarterly bill.

    If you want to find out how much power a given device uses, you can get a kill-a-watt power meter of the equivalent assuming they make a model with Aussie plugs. (US model)

  2. All electronic devices do draw energy while on, although it seems to depend on the device and the settings. I didn't bother to get a kill-a-watt, like danneely suggested (which some folks use to track the biggest hogs of electricity); I put all my major electronics on power outlet strips with on/off switches, and turn off everything when not in use. It does no harm to the television, the cable/satellite, the computer, or anything else to be turned off completely.

    Don't forget the rechargers -- any recharging station will constantly draw electricity as well. I plug in the mobile recharger, the blackberry recharger, and the cordless phone into one strip, and turn that off when I leave the house.

  3. The difference in usage could also be a difference in lifestyle. Did they have a big freezer? Were they working from home, as the two of you are, or were they using electricity elsewhere? If they weren't home much and the two of you are, that could be where the difference lies. And is this something Dave can claim on his taxes as a working from home expense?

  4. My little chest freezer that I just got reinstalled is actually running too cold, minus 8°F instead of 0°F, therefore costing me something in unnecessary electricity usage. I haven't yet pulled it out away from the wall to see if there is an adjustment dial in back. Your freezer probably is, as bllonaticbomber mentions, a substantial part of your bill, so you should make sure it's doing enough but not too much.

  5. Thanks guys, very much! I am now off to check the freezer, and to switch off the TV and all the other out of use things!

    I would love to get the electricity monitor, but I had a good look at it, and I could not see one with Aus plugs, which would just create almost more problems than it solved!

    We will just have to be aware off what we do, and try to use water in larger quantities less often. Our electric pump comes on every time we turn on a tap, so I am thinking that if we fill a jug, with enough water for 3 coffee sessions, this will save us in electricity, etc etc.

  6. When my clients ask me about leaving computers on, what I tell them is to turn them off when they're not going to be used for a number of hours at a time or when there's concern about the power possibly going out. Turning computers off and on doesn't particularly harm them but you don't want to be doing it constantly either. On/off switches do wear out and depending on the case design, they can be a pain to replace. For shorter periods, letting the computer go into power-saving mode makes more sense. I also advise checking your power-saving settings. Most computers shut off output to the screen by default at some point but they don't necessarily go beyond that and they don't always do it as quickly as might be desired.

  7. Thanks Katrina, my screen goes onto screensaver for a while, and then goes black, Dave's scrolls through his photo's all night. I will get the kids to check his settings, when they get here. I am terrified of fiddling with his computer, and losing all his work!

  8. Our computer guy said that A) a modern computer is about the same power usage as a 45w light bulb, and B) turning the computer on and off wears out your hard drive faster than leaving it on, due to having to spin up and down. If you have a good backup for the hard drive, turning it off might be better.

    Always turn off the monitor when you're not using it, whatever you do with the box, itself. Likewise with TV. Anything that makes a picture is a power-hog.

    Ginger, thanks for the tip on recharger. I hadn't thought about it constantly using power.

    The same would apply to the computer UPS box. Of course, it will scream at you if it's unplugged and not turned off. :)

  9. Perfect!! Due to my own stupidity when my Windows died, restarting is a mission, as I have to be on hand to hit the right keys at the right time, so I will keep my screen off, the TV off, and my box on, and I will be saving, but staying sane!

    I have great faith in my children. I feel sure that as soon as they arrive, they will wave a magic wand and my computer will start up easily, will have sound, and will go back to working at a reasonable speed.... We all need to have dreams!