The sign on the door says ‘ecological consultants’.
The next appliance to get the DIY energy audit is my Foxtel IQ. For those of you outside of Australia, it is a pay TV DVR (a rebadged Sky+ box if your are from the UK).This box is essentially a PC with a 60GB hard drive. The sad thing about it for energy misers like me is that you aren’t meant to switch it off. Ever. Thats because it needs to be on to receive its software updates and to record your favorite telly programmes when you aren’t there.
Bearing in mind that it’s on 24×365, it’s really important that boxes like these have a low standby consumption. Which is a bummer because as you can see this planet killing piece of junk doesn’t have a standby mode!. That’s right – look at the power draw over 24 hours below – it is always between 21.5 and 23 Watts over 24 hours. So I religiously switch the power button to standby every night, and the little light on the front goes from green to red pretending to be ‘in standby’ whilst all along the lazy ass of an engineer that programmed the firmware couldn’t be bothered to implement any power saving features at all. Which begs the question “why does it have a power switch at all?”.
Here’s a design for a foxtel IQ that can safely power down to < 1 Watt
Most PC’s can go into standby and only consume less than 1W. The foxtel IQ is just a PC in a box. The manufacturers claim that it can’t go to proper standby because it has to update software and record programmes unattended. Well why not use “Wake-over-LAN” technology to wake the box up when it needs to do these things? Wake-over-LAN is a way to switch PC’s on over the network. This means that as long as foxtel’s central server is switched on the foxtel boxes can all go to sleep safe in the knowledge that if they need to do something they will be politely woken up over their network connection. Hey – this company can even sell them the software to make it happen!
There are about 300,000 foxtel iq boxes in Australia, so if they all powered down for just 10 hours per day they would save 20W x 10 x 365 x 300,000 = 22,000,000kWh per year. Enough to power 6000 homes for a year. Just by changing some software.
As for my bill – the foxtel box is consuming 20W x 24h x365 = 175kWh per year and there is nothing I can do about it except get rid of it – which is a big ask because it is the only way I get to see the Sydney Roosters since I moved away from Sydney. I think I’ll have to upgrade to an IQ2 and hope that it’s a bit better designed when it comes to standby power use.
In the meantime I’m gonna write to Foxtel and ask them why they don’t try harder to keep my power bill down. I’ll post their response when/if I get it.
The nearest appliance to my fridge is the espresso machine – now this is absolutely an appliance that I could not live without. I don’t care if the sea has risen and is lapping at my ankles – I still need my hit every morning – so I really hope that it isn’t going to blow my kWh budget of less than 1000kwh per year per person.
(The machine is a Sunbeam EM5600 and it makes awesome coffee for a $300 machine!)
Before I got my funky new wireless power meter that interfaces to my PC, I was worried about how much power this thing uses in stand-by. So I bought one of those cheapo energy-meters with an LCD display and tried to measure it. It told me that it was drawing zero Watts – so I decided it wasn’t worth diligently turning it off all the time.
I never quite believed that crappy little power meter though, so I kinda looked forward to sticking an accurate meter on the thing for 24 hours to see exactly how much power it drew.
Here’s the Watts consumed over 24 hours after I downloaded the data and graphed it on M$ Excel:
I only have one coffee a day – that’s where the concentrated power spikes are on the RHS. The rest of the time the machine was in standby. You can see that it normally draws less than 3 Watts, but every so often there’s a huge spike as it blasts the cup warmer with a jolt of resistive heat.
These spikes actually add up to a hell of a lot of power being used for one cup of coffee – the accumulator on the power meter measures it at 0.62kWh per day. That’s 230kWh per year! Nearly 25% of one person’s power budget!
Just goes to show that you can miss some sneaky power guzzlers if you don’t have the right tools.
The solution of course is to switch the machine off after the coffee is made – that will save 200kwh per year, and my coffee habit will only be costing me 30 kWh per year (3% of my budget) which I can easily live with.
The score so far in my DIY energy audit:
Fridge maintenance: saved 200kWh ($30) per year
Coffee Machine switching off: 200kWh ($30) per year
next: the dishwasher