Tag Archives: electricity

How to Save Energy With Your Computers

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FlavioGomes asked the Lockergnome community how we can save money and energy with our computers. He has to leave his machines on all day, and he claims that it makes a big difference in his electricity bill each month. He’s hoping to find a way to cut that down, without having to turn off his machines. Any advice or tips you have will certainly be appreciated!

Generally speaking, the best way to save money is to not use your computer. If you are using it, you may not want to use it to its full potential. Notebooks have certain features which can keep the processor cool and clean, unless it needs to do something processor-intensive (such as video editing). The things you’re doing can save you money.

If you’re going to be away from your machine, you might think about turning off the screen. That can save you money without having to turn off the computer. You could also put the machine into hibernation or even shutting it down entirely. I know it’s a pain to have to wake the computer back up or power it up. However, you have to weigh the pros and cons. Do you want to spend a moment or two powering back up… or do you want to pay more each month on your electricity bill?

Turn off peripherals when you aren’t using them… especially laser printers. Those suckers eat up a lot of juice when they’re just sitting there.

If you have any other money-saving tips, please pass them along to the community – either here on the blog, or in the original thread on Lockergnome.

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When Do You Power Down Your Laptop?

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One caller to the live show the other night wondered if it’s a good idea to turn off your laptop when you are finished using it. Many people simply let the machine go into sleep mode or flip it to a screensaver.

When I am done using mine, I tend to turn it off completely if I know I won’t be using it again soon. If I’m traveling and using it often, I let it go to sleep and just get a bit of rest until I need it again. It doesn’t hurt anything to let it sleep for awhile, but I don’t recommend doing it for long periods of time.

Despite the advances in power-saving technologies, it’s better to turn off (and unplug) a device when not in use for awhile. Sometimes, it all adds up when your power bill shows up.

It’s interesting that this question was asked the day that it was. Just that day, a new service from Microsoft popped up on my radar. Microsoft Hohm can help you save money on your energy bill. After you register (for free) and answer several questions, the site will make recommendations based on your answers.

Sadly, I am the Griswold of my neighborhood. I use entirely too much power. I can’t help it! I love my gadgets, gizmos and electronics. It’s an addiction, and I don’t want a 12-step program. I will proudly stand up at the block party and yell “Let there be light!” You don’t think my neighbors will hate me too much, do you?

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How to Save Electricity

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If a device is plugged into the wall, it’s using electricity. Even if it’s not turned on, it’s still draining your wallet by running up your power bill. You may want to look into a device that can help you cut that bill down, and save on your energy usage! There’s a way to do it easily by using TrickleStar’s devices.

Using either the TV TrickleSaver or the PC TrickleSaver, you can cut your energy consumption quite a lot. Using them reduces the standby electricity used by devices. There’s a built-in relay that switches off devices that consume standby current.

The TrickleStar TV TrickleSaver reduces the standby energy consumed by TV accessories. The product has inbuilt current sensing circuitry to sense when a TV is on or Off. When the TV is on the product will switch On all peripheral devices. Conversely when the TV is Off, the product will switch Off all accessories.

Conversely, the TrickleStar PC TrickleSaver reduces the standby energy consumed by PC Peripheral equipment. The product connects to a PC via a standard USB connector and detects the power status of a PC via the USB port. When a PC is powered up, the product will switch on all peripheral devices. When a PC is switched off, the product will switch off all peripheral devices.

Why not make the Earth a friendlier place by cutting down on the amount of electricity you use? Heck… you’re saving yourself money as well, so you really have no excuse!

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Caption This Photo

Funny. This doesn’t SOUND like AC/DC. – Akiva Moskovitz

Caption This Photo or I’m going to plug this to my ear! – AJ Batac ♘

WTF is THAT above your right eyebrow?! – Mona N.

(Hello from Row 5!) – Who said that? – Anthony Stevens

Chris Pirillo, unplugged – Dave Hodson

OK, Akiva wins. – Jason

But i was going into town to pick up some power converters! – John Worthington

Don’t come any closer, man, I’LL DO IT – ωαřмaiden

Just when one thought water boarding was a sure way to obtain a confession, a new method of interrogation called The Plug In has been discovered to the chagrin of human rights activists worldwide! – Roney Smith

Nice glasses. – JMakesAwesomeSauce

p1uggergn0me – John Worthington

Yes, Akiva wins… LOL – ChangeForge | Ken Stewart

Chris takes his idea of Human Circuitry to the next level… – John Worthington

I want 1 MIIIIIILLLLIOOOON Dollars or I plug this into my head. – Bored

And, of course, the obvious one: Plug-and-Play. – Akiva Moskovitz

Gross! – Andru Edwards

This is a new application of neural networking. – jokrausdu

unfortunately, early attempts at neural inputs jacks have failed, however on a more curious note it has been discovered that ear wax from geeks contains an inordinate amount of energy. – Jerry Schuman

A new vision of human circuitry as demonstrated by Chris Pirillo – dan

+1 Mona, a horn? – Majento

Short Circuit 2: Some say he’s nuts. Some say he’s bolts. But can Number Five make it in the big, bad city? Keep your wires crossed. – £ogical €xtremes

eXistenZ is paused! – Rodfather

Pirillo in the middle of a cold reboot. – Jerry Schuman

Hairplugs 2.0 – Erik S

lets recharge ! – Prashanth Randadath

I needs more power Scottie! – Susan Beebe

…must…consume…more…internet…. – Amber aka SDA

Are you Plugged into me? Are YOU plugged into me? I don’t see anyone else here.. – Bored

Damn! Forgot to buy Q-Tips. Again! – Michael Hussein Markman

What’s the frequency Kenneth!? – Gerald Buckley

"wait, i thought this new stuff was supposed to be wireless … " – Gregory Lent

I need a outlet to plug in my light up pimple – Outsanity

How Much is Electricity Costing You?

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Elektronova is a company that presented at Live Pitch 2008 in Seattle recently. Elektronova is dedicated to helping consumers monitor their electrical consumption. This will not only allow people to save money. It will also help promote a more energy-efficient lifestyle.


  • Business Category: Tech Startup
  • Founder: Lawrence Winnerman and Kaley Davis
  • Inspiration for Product/Service: We were interested in the renewable energy space, but quickly realized that the first step… consumption awareness and reduction… is something that there is virtually no information on. The idea for Elektronova quickly followed out of that core realization.
  • Target Customer/Audience: Everyone who uses electricity, and is interested in saving money by reducing their electricity consumption.
  • Synopsis of Product / Service: We are creating small, networked devices that plug in between any electrical appliance and the wall socket. The data is aggregated by a master unit, and sent to our servers. Consumers can then view their electricity consumption, set reduction goals, and view tips and tricks on how to save both energy and money.
  • Main Company Contact: Lawrence Winnerman

What do you think about this business idea? Leave your thoughts!

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How to Save Energy

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The cost of energy these days is outrageous. Many of us cut corners wherever and whenever we can. Ryan_Leaf sent in some excellent tips to help all of us conserve energy. How many of these do you already do?

  • See how much power you are consuming You have to start somewhere, and by knowing how much everything consumes you can tell what you might want to remove or replace. You can use something like the Kill A Watt, which will display how much power you are consuming. Take a pencil and paper, and write down what you’re testing, and how much it draws. I was told that the “VA” mode gives the actual amount of energy that you are paying for. If you forget to hit the “VA” button on the Kill A Watt, and don’t want to redo the whole process again, plug it back in and hit the “PF”, or “power factor” button and then use the formula ‘Watts / PF = VA’.
  • Adjust your computer’s settings This is a simple and free way to cut back on consumption. In Windows, you can set the monitors and hard drives to turn off after a certain length of time. However, if you set it to four hours before they turn off it is almost pointless. Set it to around 30 minutes. Windows also allows you to put your computer into Stand-By or Hibernate mode. Consider telling it to put the computer to Stand-By mode after approximately 45 minutes to an hour. If you are working on something at night and don’t want to re-open all of your work when you return, enable Hibernate mode and ‘hibernate’ it overnight. This draws no power at all, so it’s optimal if you’re going to be away from your computer for any length of time.
  • Turn it off Do you really need to have the television on while you listen to music? Is it necessary to leave your computer on overnight, idle? By turning off items you’re not using, you can conserve a lot of power. Consider plugging items into a power-strip or surge protector if you don’t already. Many televisions and other consumer electronics still draw a considerable amount of power when they are ‘off’. By turning off the power-strip you stop it from drawing power completely.
  • Try to replace the biggest consumers If you still have a CRT on your desk, replace it with an LCD. Not only will this improve the clarity of the screen, but it also will draw much less power for the relative screen size. In addition, if you still are using incandescent lightbulbs, replace them with compact florescent bulbs. Also, if you have an older computer that draws a lot of power, consider replacing it with a newer, more energy-efficient one. New computers not only improve performance, but many, if not all, include better power-saving features. I personally switched to a Mac Mini recently, and was shocked it only drew 23 watts on the desktop, and 1 watt in ‘sleep’ mode.


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How to Check Electricity and Energy Use

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Do you know how much energy each of my 30″ monitors takes up? Do you know how much they cost me on a monthly basis? More importantly… how much does YOUR computer cost you a month? Do you even know, or know how to find out? I just received my Electricity bill for the months of November and December. Let’s just say, I need to do some troubleshooting, and figure out how to lower my costs.

Last year on my holiday wish list, I had an item from ThinkGeek listed. The Watts Up Pro will give you a readout of information from whatever you plug into it. Simply plug any device into Watt’s Up and the meter instantaneously displays the wattage being used, as well as 18 other values, including average monthly cost. The device records this data into non-volatile memory (stored even if power is lost). One thousand seven hundred data points are stored, starting with a sampling rate resolution of one second. It records any power interruptions, which is extremely handy when performing an audit of several devices. Watt’s Up is also capable of real-time logging. It even includes a payback calculator software utility, which automatically calculates the time required for a new energy efficient appliance to pay for itself!

Here is some of the information you can receive with this:

  • Cost, in dollars and cents
  • Frequency
  • Volt-Amps
  • Average monthly cost
  • Power factor
  • True power
  • Average monthly kwh
  • Cumulative power (kwh)
  • Power cycle

If you know of other Tech gadgets that we could use around our house that are user-friendly… be sure to leave me a follow-up comment, or send an email to me at [email protected]


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Wireless Power

Is it just me, or is this invention a game changer?

It may sound futuristic, but Powercast’s platform uses nothing more complex than a radio–and is cheap enough for just about any company to incorporate into a product. A transmitter plugs into the wall, and a dime-size receiver (the real innovation, costing about $5 to make) can be embedded into any low-voltage device. The receiver turns radio waves into DC electricity, recharging the device’s battery at a distance of up to 3 feet.

Fewer wires? Fewer proprietary power cables? Fewer batteries? Fewer headaches? OMG. Finally, a piece of technology that nobody will be able to live without.

Actually, even though I’m looking at this link today (March 30th) – the page title is “Powercast’s technology cuts the electric cord – April 1, 2007.” Is this an AFD joke that was published before AFD?

Cutting Cable and Cord Clutter

My latest CPU Magazine article is out: The Power Of Power.

I recently moved into a new house in the Seattle area. Moving is anything but fun, especially when it happens to coincide with the same time frame as your wedding/honeymoon. Well, the movers we selected did an absolutely rotten job at packing our stuff. Cords were separated from their respective devices, and I’ll be damned if I know which ones match up. Some manufacturers were nice enough to stamp their name and the corresponding device onto the power supply and cord, while others were completely generic and without labels. Am I really to blame for this mess?

It’s a trend that must be reversed. CPUser “Randy” had a comment that deserved to be seen, if only by the hardware hackers of the galaxy:

While I agree that there should be some form of standard, when dealing with power adapters. There is one very significant point. There are many devices out there. Each one, usually for good reason, is designed to charge and/or run on a given voltage/amperage. The reason for not having extra circuitry, with which to convert some incoming standard towards something that will work with the needed circuitry, is that this “circuit” would require a certain given space. In today’s world, every consumer wants more of everything fit into a device except that they want it to be smaller. If you could design a tiny circuit, say .1 to .3 mm cubed, that could convert some universal standard, say standard home 115VAC and automotive ~12VDC to whatever we need to run the circuitry. Let us know. It would be greatly appreciated.

So is such a thing possible? What say you, power people? I promise to give ‘er a good “plug” or two. Pun intended.

Electricity: Restored!

Ponzi and I finally have electricity again! We’ve been dark since 1:30AM on Friday – nearly three and a half days ago. It wasn’t quite like Gilligan’s Island for us- since we had running water and natural gas (with a few gas-powered fireplaces to boot). We had enough food to see us through the crisis, and we wound up cooking meals for friends and family who weren’t fortunate enough to have working appliances. Still, living without power was not fun – and there are still hundreds of thousands of families in the Pacific Northwest who still need help. We’re sheltering a couple of friends tonight, as we have space, heat, food, and water (all luxuries). I’ll never take advantage of a light bulb again!