What are the top 4 Things you can do to save electricity in your office?
Turn your computer off at night if you aren’t already.
Even better, change the power settings on your computer so it goes to sleep after 15 minutes or 20 minutes.
Turn your lights off when ever you leave your office.
Next time you buy a computer, seriously consider purchasing a laptop (they use about 1/4 the power of a desktop computer).
Do you know how much electricity you use in your personal office or cubicle? Do you know how much energy your desktop computer or laptop uses? If you are like me, you probably don’t know. Over the past year I’ve measured how much electricity the different electric and electronic devices use so that I can make better decisions as I try to reduced my personal energy foot print (I use a device call the Kill-A-Watt to measure the electrical draw of each item).
Below are the power draws of all the electrical devices in my office (here is spreadsheet with a longer list of home and work electronics & their power draws):
Lights On: 64 watts
27″ iMac Computer in Use w/ 2nd 24″ monitor (both screens at 50% brightness): 142 watts
What follows are my notes from my Presentation at the 2010 CALI conference at Rutgers Law School at Camden. If you’d like to see a video of the presentation you can find it here.
Today we are going to learn how you can save your organization money, and reduce it’s burden on the environment, all starting in the computer lab, by reducing energy consumption.
The keys that I’ve found for reducing electricity as an individual or in an organization are to:
Measure every electrical device possible
Implement changes where ever you have the power to do so
Educate everyone in your organization
Do you know how much it costs to run a lab computer? Before making changes to our lab, it cost $7 per day to run our 42 computers, which quickly adds up to $2500 in a year!
Terminology: kWh = Kilowatt hour. If you turn on a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours you will have used 1000 watts, or 1 Kilowatt.
Price of kWh varies widely across the country. Do you know what the price of electricity is in your area? Washington state has the lowest price at $0.06 / KWh, and Hawaii the highest at $0.28 / KWh. The average in the US is about $0.11 / KWh. In Pennsylvania, running a 100 watt light bulb for 10 hours will cost about $0.12.
Measure every piece of equipment you can using a Kill A Watt (Only $20 on Amazon.com).
Measure full power (watching video), Normal (word processing), Sleep & Hibernate modes (power draw can vary quite a bit).
It can measure the power consumption of all types of equipment: printers, lamps, monitors, TV’s, etc.
The chart below show the total cost of running each device 24 x 7 for a year. The cost per KWh used is $0.12.
Electrical usage across devices varies greatly. The iPad uses very little electricity… Laptops also use electricity sparingly, but desktop computers without power saving settings enabled use quite a bit of electricity. Most people don’t know this.
When my kids are playing on our XBox360 and the 46” TV, they use a lot of electricity: A combined 325 watts, as opposed to my 4 watts as I surf on my iPad
To measure the total electrical usage in a building, or if possible parts of the building (most buildings have several electrical panels). The Energy Detective does a great job measuring the total usage in my home, and they are coming out with a commercial 3-phase version soon.
The Energy Detective, as well as other similar devices, come with real time dashboard that displays current usage as well as tracks historical usage.
Implement everywhere that you have control! The number one thing that we did was to turn computers off every night. Because of a patch management tool that we previously used, we asked our faculty and staff to leave their computers on. For the same reason we left our Lab computers turned on 24 x 7. By doing just this alone we can reduce electrical consumption by computer by 60-70%
Make Power saving the default on new computers. Encourage Faculty and Staff to make changes, by showing them how. In the past I’ve disabled power saving settings on new XP computers because of the instability introduced, but the tools seem much better in Windows 7. OSX power management features are excellent and reliable.
If you use Ghost or other similar product, you can schedule shutdown and start up times globally. If you don’t use ghost like us, we use the “Scheduled Task Wizard” and a simple command line: Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Task Scheduler … create a new task that runs the following windows Utility: c:\windows\system32\shutdown.exe -s We have the task run at 10:20PM every night (the library closes at 10pm) except Friday nights, so that Windows update can do it’s magic.
Buy Energy Star equipment… make power consumption a consideration along with price. Also factor energy cost into total cost of the hardware purchase.
Virtualize servers whenever possible. Server use a lot of electricity. If you can reduce the number of “boxes” you are running, you can typically reduce your electrical consumption significantly. We’re in the process of virtualizing our servers as they come up for retirement.
People can’t make good decisions unless they have information. Example from home: Electric Hot water tank uses the majority of the electricity in our home… I was worrying about turning lights off, when it was shower length that I should have been worried about. Most people are the same when it comes to office equipment.
Visibility is Very important. Once people are able to monitor their usage, consumption typically drops by 20%. Using a web based display, or adding power usage to your faculty website would be an easy way to let everyone know how things are going.
Let People Know: When you make changes in the computer labs, let everyone know. I did this via an email to faculty, staff and students, so that they’d know why the computers in the lab would not be turned on for them in the morning. I also included in that email Tips for how Faculty and Staff could reduce their energy usage at their work station.
Tips for Faculty: Do not give your faculty and staff a long list of things to do… just 2 or 3 key things that they can easily do… don’t overwhelm them.. Let them know relatively speaking how much energy they’ll save by doing each thing.
Shut down every night
Enable Power Management
Use a Laptop when possible
Competition: Once people know what they are using, then you can pit them against each other in a competition. Business School vs. the Law School… Just don’t let the Business School set the rules. Good natured competition can get people to focus in a manner that it is difficult to do in any other way.
While there is not a direct link between electricity usage and the problems in the Gulf; if we used less energy of all forms, including electricity, we wouldn’t need to import as much oil, or drill for oil in such difficult locations like the gulf…
What is probably the quickest and least expensive way to reduce your home heating (or cooling) bill, and reduce your home’s carbon foot print? If you have a home older than 10 years old, the plugging common air leaks with calking and foam filler is probably the way to go. The good folks at Re-Nest have a great article on how to go about finding the air leaks, and then how to effectively plug them up.
Not rocket science, but a much less expensive way to save electricity or natural gas than buying expensive new appliances.
One thing I have learned since we installed an electricity monitor in our home, is that I really had now idea which appliances were using the most electricity. Several years ago we installed compact florescent bulbs in the house to reduce our electricity usage. That did help, but I’ve discovered that we would have saved a lot more energy if everyone had simply shortened their daily showers by a couple of minutes. Taking a shorter shower would not have cost us any money (those compact florsent bulbs were very expensive 8 years ago), but as a family we would have used significantly less energy.
The same principle holds true when building or renovating a home. I never would have guesses that carpeting is several orders of magnitude more energy intensive to manufacture and install than ceramic tiles or hard wood floors. The 8 Minute TED Talk video below by Catherine Mohr provides some great non-intuitive examples from her home building project:
I just wanted to let everyone in the library know two things we have done recently to reduce the carbon foot print of our new Law Library Computer Lab:
When we ordered the new computers for the lab we ordered energy efficient computers. Despite being more capable, our new Dell Optiplex 760 computers use only 64 watts of electricity, compared to 92 watts for the old computers. So despite increasing the number of lab computers from 25 to 33, we are using less electricity than before!
This week we have implemented a new system that shuts down all the lab and quick station computers every night at 10:20PM (except Friday nights). Shutting down the computers at night will reduce the amount of carbon emitted to power our lab from 22 tons to 13 tons per year! Our actual carbon emissions will probably be closer to 8 tons per year because the computers will be turned on in the morning only when they are needed by students (lab computer usage is quite light during the summer months). This also translates into reduction in our power bill by just over $1000 per year.
To put the computer lab numbers into context, my home which uses a heat pump to keep it warm, an electric hot water tank to warm water, an electric dryer to dry our cloths and an electric stove to do our cooking, uses about 35 Kilowatt hours per day in the month of February (this will go down quite a bit in the summer months). The computer lab was using 65 Kilowatt hours per day before these changes, and going forward will use about 23 Kilowatt hours per day! A win for the environment and a win for the budget.
If you have any questions or concerns please let me know. For more details, you can look at the following details to see how the carbon calculations were made:
http://is.gd/8K6hX A big thanks to Serena for reminding me that this was something I needed to do (after being on my todo list for over 2 years).
I was really inspired by these two lectures given by Amory Lovins at Stanford this past March. Amroy talks about how we can build and renovate buildings to be more energy efficient, and environmentally friendly buy looking beyond a simple cost benefit analysis on a single part of a renovation. For example you might spend more on insulation and energy saving windows and in a building, but be able to more than offset the cost of the insulation and more expensive windows by needing a smaller furnace because the building looses less heat now. That is just one small example of many from the podcasts.
Rather than entailing higher construction costs, smartly designed and renovated buildings can often actually cost less, a phenomenon Lovins refers to as “tunneling through the cost barrier”. Amory talks about potential gains through air conditioning, lighting and heating, and through innovative design of lamps, windows, and ducts. “Imaginative design is not rocket science, and requires most of all that we decide to do things in ways that we are not used to.”
In Honor of Bike To Work Week at the University of Victoria, I created this little video with the help of Elizabeth (thanks for your wonderful video work Elizabeth!).
It has been a running joke here at the Law Library that I’m so anxious to go home after work I just ride down the loading dock stairs so I can make a faster get-a-way. Have a great Bike To Work Week Everyone! Enjoy!
I read an interesting article a few weeks ago. The title caught my attention. It was called, “Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer?” I know that sometimes I think I’d be happier if I had a bit more money in my pocket. So what did the researchers find out? The article said that people who are struggling to put a roof over their head and food on their table typically saw an increase in happiness as their income increased. Their happiness continued to increase until the per-capita house hold income reached $12,000 (This is for the United States, in US dollars). After that point there was virtually no increase in reported happiness as income rose above that level. On a graph, happiness increased steadily with income, until the $12,000 per person mark, and then it went almost completely flat.
A different research group also took a look at lottery winners in Great Britain. Interestingly he found that in the case of people who won large lotteries (over $200,000); they reported a significant increase in happiness immediately after winning, but within a year, most were back to the same level of happiness that they were at before winning.
Both of these studies confirm what I saw a number of years ago while I was living in Brazil. Most of the people I worked with would be considered “poor” if they lived in Canada, but most were quite happy in spite of their relative lack of material possessions.
What this tells me is that if someone is unhappy with a little bit of money (once their basic needs are met), then there is a very good chance that they will be unhappy with a lot of money. It turns out that money doesn’t buy happiness in the long run. I better get back to work so I can afford my gym membership …