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Electronic equipment power savings
Old 11-23-2015, 07:58 AM   #1
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Electronic equipment power savings

Why You Never Need to Put Your Apple TV (or Other Modern Devices) to Sleep

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It costs approximately $2 to leave a Chromecast plugged in twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty five days a year at the average U.S. energy price of 12.5 cents per kWh. If you unplug your Chromecast (or similar devices like the Amazon Fire TV Stick) when they aren’t in use (which is the only way to turn the power off on most streaming sticks) you’ll save less than a cup of coffee a year and you’ll be forever plugging and unplugging things to watch TV.

Sure, sure, you say. The Chromecast is so tiny! The bigger devices like the Apple TV and the Amazon Fire must consume way more power right? ...

So in practical cold-hard-cash terms, that means the if you leave the Apple TV on 24/7 it will consume about $2.25 worth of electricity (and if you ran the thing playing videos all day and night for a whole year you’d burn less than five bucks). In sleep mode and unplugged, obviously, you can reduce your power consumption to roughly 25 cents or nothing, respectively, for the time you’re not using the device over the course of the year. The Amazon Fire TV? Same story. It idles a bit higher at 5.1 watts but that still only translates to approximately $4.50 for a whole year.
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You’ll save more energy per year replacing a single frequently used 60w incandescent light bulb with an LED bulb than you would unplugging your streaming box every night for a decade.
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Old 11-23-2015, 08:01 AM   #2
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And in places like here in MN, you get some of that cost back in heat generated. 6 month's out of the year, it saves a bit on heating costs.

Of course, add in a few TVs, computers, tablets, etc. I am sure it adds up. Maybe an extra $100 a year.
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Old 11-23-2015, 08:09 AM   #3
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I bought a kill a watt meter many years ago to test the electrical draw of these random electronics. Same conclusion here. We leave virtually everything plugged in. We have a WDTV media player and it only draws a few watts. It takes a while to boot up, so we just leave it on 24/7 so it's instantly accessible from anywhere in the house as a media server. Yeah, it costs a couple bucks per year ($0.10 kWh electricity), but it's worth it. We've replaced virtually all the lights with CFLs so we've hit the biggest efficiency gains already.

Every little bit helps, but only a little bit. Focus on the bigger importance items first.
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Old 11-23-2015, 08:14 AM   #4
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Unplugging is a pain and I don't do that.

As for sleep, I do put my Fire TV to sleep. That's as simple as a button on my remote control.

For my computer set up, took a while to train my mind (hate staring at a glowing LED light before retiring to bed) that it is okay to leave the monitor on all the time and automatically sleep instead of powering down. My computer automatically goes on sleep with 30 minutes of non-use which works for me.
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Old 11-23-2015, 08:19 AM   #5
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I use one of these that shuts off devices when it senses they are not in use: Amazon.com: Smart Strip LCG5 Energy Saving Power Strip with Auto-Switching Technology and Modem/Coaxial Surge Protection: Electronics

Since it stays on constantly, all I have to do is remember to unplug IT every night.
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Old 11-23-2015, 08:23 AM   #6
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I can log in to my utility company Web site to see my electric usage. From the smart meter, they log the usage down to each hour.

The lowest hourly energy usage I have seen is this time of year when it is neither hot nor cold for the AC/heat pump to run, and also at night when the lights are out, except for the CFL porch lights.

But I still use 500Wh inside one hour. That is the lowest it can be. Other than the fridge, which does not run constantly and it uses less than 500W, what else can add up to 500W? It is a mystery.
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Old 11-23-2015, 08:25 AM   #7
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Since the power costs are so low, I wonder which option is better for the devices? Does it wear out components to be exposed 24/7 to the constant small (and occasionally huge) fluctuations in household voltage as other loads come online, etc, or is it better for them to be unplugged and subjected to a daily start-up?
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Old 11-23-2015, 08:48 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Since the power costs are so low, I wonder which option is better for the devices? Does it wear out components to be exposed 24/7 to the constant small (and occasionally huge) fluctuations in household voltage as other loads come online, etc, or is it better for them to be unplugged and subjected to a daily start-up?
That could be a factor, and also - so many people went out and bought power strips based on the emotional cries of energy savings by people who never actually measured it, and I bet many of these spent more on the power strips that they will ever get in savings. Plus, it took resources to make the power strip, so not a good thing environmentally either.

A Kill-A-Watt is a good investment. I still have a few more things to check, but most everything I have checked led me to not turn it off - the built in sleep mode worked very well. Printers, and other things typically draw a single watt or less in sleep mode. < $1/year for average rates. Really not worth the wear/tear or trouble.

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Old 11-23-2015, 08:56 AM   #9
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It's just like trying to reduce your WR. You look at the expense report by Quicken, and nothing really stands out. Well, there are, but you cannot take cold shower, nor unplug the fridge, turn off the computer, the TV, nor shiver in the cold and dark. And then, the other little things are so little, like the alarm clock on the bed stand, the WiFi router, etc...

It's tough.
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:02 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by FUEGO View Post
I bought a kill a watt meter many years ago to test the electrical draw of these random electronics. Same conclusion here. We leave virtually everything plugged in.
+1

Me too. The Kill-A-Watt was fun to play with (yeah, I know...) and shed a lot of light on which devices actually consumed power and which consumed so little it really wasn't worth worrying about.
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:11 AM   #11
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My Chromecast is powered by a USB which is connected to my TV. It only comes on when the TV is on.

Having said that, I read somewhere that about 25% of your electric bill is on passive drain from chargers etc.
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:22 AM   #12
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Having said that, I read somewhere that about 25% of your electric bill is on passive drain from chargers etc.
I'm sure there is a house somewhere where this is true, but certainly not for "most homes".

I'll refer you to http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/vampire.html

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You might have heard that unplugging idle appliances around your home saves a lot of electricity. But for the most part that's just not true. Idle phone chargers and power adapters likely account for way less than 1% of residential energy use. (Those who claim it's 5-10% are looking at ancient studies from long ago before new regulations kicked in, and even then those old 5-10% figures were still suspect anyway.)

This means most people can't save much electricity by unplugging their wall chargers. You're much better off addressing your heating, cooling, lighting, laundry, and computer first. Have you done all that? Good. Now you can work on saving piddling 0.5% or so of household electrical use that comes from vampire power.
More info at the web site.
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Old 11-23-2015, 09:44 AM   #13
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I think the decision comes down to deciding in your own mind if leaving something on is a waste or non-issue or worthwhile convenience. I'm used to turning most things off when not in use. I can't get myself to leave the printer on so switch that off when not running.

Leaving an LED light bulb on, knowing less is consumed than old incandescent, I can't and still turn off.
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Old 11-23-2015, 11:15 AM   #14
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FWIW, somebody measured the energy savings when their Tivo DVR was put into 'standby' mode. I think it saved 2 watts an hour.

OTOH, when my iMac turns off the monitor to save power, it's like I lost a heater in the room. That must be a significant savings, I would think.
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Old 11-23-2015, 12:08 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
I can log in to my utility company Web site to see my electric usage. From the smart meter, they log the usage down to each hour.

The lowest hourly energy usage I have seen is this time of year when it is neither hot nor cold for the AC/heat pump to run, and also at night when the lights are out, except for the CFL porch lights.

But I still use 500Wh inside one hour. That is the lowest it can be. Other than the fridge, which does not run constantly and it uses less than 500W, what else can add up to 500W? It is a mystery.

You could turn off one breaker at a time for one hour and see what effect there is on your cool Web interface.
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Old 11-23-2015, 12:38 PM   #16
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I dream of blinking lights everywhere if I don't unplug things. I've noticed by unplugging/plugging in I don't use them as much...which isn't a bad thing. Sure it saves me money. I live in MN and I try to keep the energy bill under $150 during the winter. We get a good 4 months of pretty chilly weather and that's where my energy costs really start to climb. Indoors doing less outside means more heat and more energy powering the things that keep me indoors.
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Old 11-23-2015, 12:44 PM   #17
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I checked out a kill-a-watt from our local library a couple of years ago. Total vampire power from devices in standby was lower than I expected. Still I did a couple of things.
1. PC's now go into hibernation after 30 minutes or so. Draw was extremely low.
2. A small handful of appliances (like paper shredder) that are only used occasionally are completely shut off now.


Was interesting to do, but I got more savings out of replacing the lightbulb in my post-lamp next to the driveway with an LED bulb.
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Old 11-23-2015, 02:45 PM   #18
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For a 4 br 3.5 ba 3000+ sq ft home:

Our electricity bill was $1003.76 for the past 12 months. More than half of that is for air conditioning in the hot half of the year. There are several months where the bill was about $40 a month (Nov & Apr are about $35 each), so that is our "burn rate" without AC I would guess or about $1.33 per day which covers the refrigerator, the stove, the oven, the lights, the computers, the TV, the garage door opener, the motors in the washer & dryer, etc. I suspect the refrigerator is probably the biggest user of electricity.

We have no LED lights. I cannot imagine that we would reduce our electricity bill by unplugging anything or switching out light bulbs. What do you think? Are there savings to be had in our situation?
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Old 11-23-2015, 02:52 PM   #19
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DW and I only did a few things here as she really cares about this.

1) we bought the lowest energy consuming fridge at best buy. We even bought an older model for the same price because it used less energy (clerk was very confused).

2) we installed a separate ac/heat unit in our family room so we can use central air/heat rarely (nights are pretty temperate where we live).

3) we redid all the light bulbs to the most energy efficient we can

The next thing would be the drier but we're too damn lazy to line hang clothes let alone plug and unplug things all the time .

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Old 11-23-2015, 03:18 PM   #20
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For a 4 br 3.5 ba 3000+ sq ft home:

Our electricity bill was $1003.76 for the past 12 months. More than half of that is for air conditioning in the hot half of the year. There are several months where the bill was about $40 a month (Nov & Apr are about $35 each), so that is our "burn rate" without AC I would guess or about $1.33 per day which covers the refrigerator, the stove, the oven, the lights, the computers, the TV, the garage door opener, the motors in the washer & dryer, etc. I suspect the refrigerator is probably the biggest user of electricity.

We have no LED lights. I cannot imagine that we would reduce our electricity bill by unplugging anything or switching out light bulbs. What do you think? Are there savings to be had in our situation?
We're generally replacing with LEDs as the incandescents burn out. Our outdoor pole light paid for itself in about 2.5 months based on my hand calculation when we swapped out to an LED.

Originally, our top two energy consumers were the A/C in summer months and the pool pump. Using an online calculator, I discovered that I was running the pool pumps (main pump plus booster for the Polaris) too much per day. That plus adding some insulation in some hotspots I discovered in our ceiling when I borrowed a friend's thermal sensor has dropped our average monthly usage by about 500kw-hr. Did this about 2 years ago and it's still holding.
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