Friday, September 14, 2007

Day Seventy-One - Feeling Disconnected

Turning Off the Laptop During the Day

My sister, Shannon, is a super techno-geek who is always in the know on the latest and greatest electronic gadgets, so I wasn't too surprised when she emailed me last week to tell me about a neat device that measures the energy consumed by whatever you've got plugged in to it. It's called a Kill-A-Watt , it costs around $20 and can be found at hardware stores, electronics stores, Amazon, wherever. I thought it was SO COOL that I once again violated the compact and ordered one. (You can bet your sweet ass that I've been running around the house plugging virtually EVERYTHING into this! I am SUCH a dork.)

Anyhow, I've been hearing a lot on the news and online about how much power our electronic devices use just by being plugged in. Supposedly, any appliance with one of those clunky transformers is making our meter rotate faster than Michelle Kwan in a scratch spin. So I was very excited to find out just how much juice I was wasting by having my laptop connected to the wall socket. Turns out, not much. Good news - yes; but in a way, disappointing.

Here I thought I could save mega-wattage by unplugging the computer at night, but the truth is that I'm only drawing 1 watt. yippee. Don't get me wrong, a watt is a watt, and I'll still unplug it, but this wasn't the earth-shattering news I expected. So once again, my hypothesis is flawed and therefore I've decided to change my resolution to something more productive.

I am turning off and unplugging my laptop during the day. That's right folks, turns out that when my laptop is running, I'm drawing about 30 watts. Even if it's just showing the screen saver, it's still sucking down 30 watts. And, even worse, it sucks up quite a bit of my time. Time I should be spending on the floor with my kids, rather than checking my email or looking stuff up. Time I could theoretically use to clean my house, but won't. Time that is generally wasted checking Yahoo Groups, deleting emails promising "Gi_anT Pe_nis Enlarge-mint", and shopping for techno-gadgets that violate my compact.

Sure I could let it go to standby power and save a little bit of energy, but that's not the point. The point is, I don't NEED it on. I highly doubt I will ever recieve an emergency notice via email that is SO IMPORTANT that it cannot wait six hours to be read.

So, today was day one of this experiment and, knowing how I like to cheat, I had to physically remove the laptop from my desk and put it in a kitchen cabinet. It felt wierd being offline, but I'm proud to say that, thanks to my personal therapist Dr. Hershey, I worked through my withdrawal and didn't bring it out until naptime. Once naptime is over, it will be turned back off until tonight, when the kids go to bed. So if you leave a comment and don't see it right away, do not fear, I haven't fallen into the compost bin, I'm just powered down ;-)


I shut the laptop off at 7:30 am and didn't turn it back on until 2:00. It will power down again around 3:30 and be back online around 9:00. That's twelve hours of downtime, that normally would have been 'up and running' time. At an average of 30 Watts, that works out to .36 kWh a day, or over 130 kWh a year. At my average rate of $0.10/kWh, I'll be saving $13.00 a year.

Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5

I'm so used to checking emails and looking stuff up online that this will be a tough habit to break. However, the rewards are great. Today the kids and I played about twenty rounds of "Cariboo" without stopping and I built a Lego tower over 3' tall. I even got caught up on laundry. Besides, if I save up all my emails until the end of the day, I'll have so many to read, it will make me feel more popular and less dork-y. ;-)

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