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Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, United States
A guy finding out if life really does begin at 50.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Entertainment Boxes and Power Drain

I've read a couple articles about energy usage around the home. One article Atop TV Sets, Cable Boxes and DVRs Drain Power - states that a DVR might use "... 446 kilowatt hours a year, about 10 percent more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator, a recent study found." Since I have Kill-a-Watt energy monitor I decided to see what my home entertainment setup used.

I have a UPS plugged into the wall outlet and I have the following devices plugged into the UPS:

  • DVR
  • Google TV
  • Wireless Router
  • DVD player
  • Wii
  • Digtial delay device
  • 46 inch LCD TV
  • Surround Sound
The Wii, DVR player, Digital Delay, and Surround Sound was not used during this sample. I only use the Wii when it's too hot to run, and the other items when I'm watching a DVD movie. So I would say the DVR, TV, and Google TV devices are my typical viewing set up.

Over 72 hours (3 days) my setup used 8.24Kwh or 2.75Kwh per day and just over 1000 Kwh per year. That's about $110 a year at 11 cents a Kwh. When 'off' 85 watts per hour (2Kwh per day) is used , and the 'on' usage is 142 watts per hour (3.4Kwh per day). Like the article says you don't save much when turning the devices off. 2.75Kwh - 2Kwh = 750 watts per day for me which is less than 9 cents a day to have them 'on' for just over 13 hour per day. 750 / (142 - 85) = 13.16

The NY Times article never actually stated what a typical household used. The study the NY Times linked to never said either, but there was a table that showed 617 Kwh per year. Based on what I am using I would say that 617 Kwh is conservative when you add in the TV and the internet access needed to stream video.

I think a Kill-a-Watt device is well worth the $30 since it gives your real time and accumulated watts (watt hours) and the amount of time it has been measuring which is all you need to understand the energy usage. Kill-a-Watt are available online and home improvement stores.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bummed about some Google Decisions

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Google. I'm sitting here watching a Google TV as I type this post into Google Blogger as I wait for my Google ChromeBook to arrive. I use Google Docs for my spreadsheets and other office documents, and Google Picasa to share my pictures. I can see by looking at my Google Chrome browser that I have no new notices on Google+. Google PowerMeter tells me I've used 13.4kw of electricity today which is a little under the usage for this same time last week. And Google Health tells me my A1C is trending downward (which is a good thing).

PowerMeter? Health? Never heard of them? Exactly, which is a shame since most people care about their health and the energy they use. Google in a blog release said they “didn’t catch on”, so both projects are being sunset. Both failed for more or less the same reason - no easy access to data. Power companies weren't interested in making the data from the electronic meters available to their customers. The electronic power meter was not installed for you to know your energy usage - it was installed for your power company to know, and for you just to get the bill. I had to buy a $200 device and install it in my breaker box, and the device and not the meter sends the data to Google. The device does allow me to also display the data on my PC. +1 for Big Business and secrecy, -1 for empowering each of us by making the information we need easily accessible.

Google Health on the other hand was free, but it required you to manually input your health data. Again all the data Google Health needs is locked up in your doctor or medical provider's office. Each health care provider is 'doing their own thing', and the only attribute they all have in common is they don't give you access to your data - Again you just get the bill.

Both PowerMeter and Health used my data and provide me information. A common 'data model' for my energy usage and medical data that allowed me to track and monitor - over a long timeframe in one place. Quick when was your last Tetanus/Diphteria (Td) shot? Mine was 12/9/2009. You better call your doctor. I used 59kw last Friday which is 10Kw above my average; Why? Oh right it was 102 on Friday.

Google was just ahead of it's time. Smart devices that monitor their energy usage and wireless send that to your energy computer (I have one) are still standalone and not built into the appliance/device. Bill and Hillary Clinton attempted to streamline medical records and failed, so it's no surprise that Google failed too. Doctors and Insurance companies have no interest in standards. They prefer À la carte solutions, after all we are all individuals right?

The loss of these 2 applications will have an impact on me and my desire to rid myself of Windows once and for all, and use Chromebook and the cloud to keep and access my data. I'm different than most people. I'm less interested in the cloud as an entertainment supplier, and more interested in the cloud as a place where I live my electronic life - medical, banking, government, and yes, purchase goods and services - which is what Google's new CEO said is their core business - ads. Bummer that changing the world by innovating ways for us all to easily access information is now less important.