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 Post subject: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:41 pm 
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One of the upsides to having a digital meter from my electric utility is to see how much power is being drawn at any given time. Sometimes you just can't plug something into the Kill-a-Watt meter. So, after it was installed, I took a look.

102W.

Hmm. No appliances were running and my PC was off. I went up to my home office and hit the master power switch to turn off my router, cable modem, Verizon pico cell, and phone charger.

75W.

Next step - hit the master switch for my home theatre electronics and see what the vampire load turns out to be.

How low can you go?

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:02 pm 
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If you have a fridge/freezer let the meter run for a a while. They will use almost nothing when idle, but will use a fair bit when the compressor is running. Does your meter average over time?


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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:34 pm 
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I was more interested in determining the idle power with appliances off. If I wanted to look at load power over time, I can use a website app. For the fridge, it's better to plug into a kill-a-watt, let it run for three or four days to average out frost free cycles etc.., and then read the kW-H. Highly recommend this - my old fridge was a power beast. The new one paid for itself in 2 years though power savings.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:36 am 
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On a sunny day our house idles at around -3000W. That's what tends to happen when you have a solar array on a south facing roof. Brilliant fun watching the meter run backwards. It's been a sunny month this March and so far the meter has run backwards for the month overall which is a pretty good feat.

Anyway, back to the topic. We have a few watts each lost on things like a TV booster, the central heating controls, phones, routers etc but things like TVs and computers are always switched off at the wall at night. Otherwise you can give away around 10W through all of the different power supplies. Standby modes are evil things.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:39 am 
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Any device with a remote control will draw phantom power. Doorbell transformers draw phantom power. 75W is pretty low really.

I'd like to get a whole-house Kill-A-Watt, and I'd love to get a 4kWh+ solar PV array, so I can drive an electric car for "free".

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:54 am 
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You should check out this stuff then - http://www.currentcost.com/products.html

I'm contemplating getting one here, and then do some monitoring per breaker as well (computer room/office etc etc)...

My rig pulls a depressing amount of power at full blast (probably >500W all told for one pc, two amps, 3 monitors...)

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:35 pm 
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I have a CurrentCost meter and it works well. Shame Google gave up on PowerMeter though.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:30 am 
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I recently moved over to a better Bluetooth headset for my cell phone and removed all of the cordless phones around the house (that were BT enabled/connected to my cellphone) (~2 to 3W). Also pulled the plug on my ancient yet trusty VCR (5W when off!). My water softener is off the grid for repair, too. Net result: house idles at 65W.

I had a phantom 5W that puzzled me for a while - the old Antec PSU in my original Sonata build (used as a sorta HTPC) was the culprit - I forgot to turn the power switch off. :D

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:01 pm 
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I measured my vampire load the other day (also using the new smart meter display) by unplugging both the computer complex and the home theater complex at a time when no appliances were running.

The result was 99W. Pretty high. Most likely culprits: living room stereo complex, cordless phones & answering machine, microwave clock, oven clock, refrigerator controls, furnace & A/C controls, light dimmers, doorbell transformer, garage door controller, yard sprinkler controllers, swimming pool equipment controllers. And probably a few others I've forgotten about.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:34 pm 
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4 teenagers all with their own electronics, phones ect., two tenants out back with an AC unit and their own fridge...i dont even want to think about it....

i miss being off the grid... :(

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:09 am 
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Thanks for this thread as it got me thinking. I've been working up a new build and in looking at things, I have a couple of viable options. The first is a Low Power 45w Intel Option while the other is a 100w AMD APU option.

Right now, the Intel option is based on the ASRock Z77-E ITX board that includes an M-SATA port for an SSD. I like this option as it uses the least power compared to the AMD option. The CPU I've selected is pricey compared to the AMD option as it's a Xeon E3-1265L (45w) with P4000 IGP. There's plenty of performance headroom so the system load is expected to be as little as 50w at max draw - +5w for the SSD.

As to the AMD option, based on total power draw, it's not. Performance wise, the Xeon is 2.5x the APU offerings while needing half the power. That pretty much seals the fate of the AMD as being unsuited to our needs and Yes I do know that the APU accounts for the bulk of the demand. Another factor that comes into play is the lack of an M-SATA port on the AMD board and the effect on boot/reboot speeds is becoming important. Storage capacity isn't as important as I'll be using a NAS with 6+TB of mirrored storage. Any suggestions on a low poered NAS with Good Throughput and I/O would be appreciated.

Eventually, we'll be building a new Off Grid home and we're working to get our total demand down so a 1Kw PV array is large enough. Our current demand is over 44Kw per day according to our electric bill. That's what we really need to drop and I'm hoping to get down to below 5Kw per day.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:44 am 
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How do you cook? Electric kitchen appliances are some of the most power hungry things you will find in a home but not something that can really be avoided. It's just to get some perspective on what the current 44kWh consumption covers. I'm assuming that you've already gone round and switched everything off when not in use.

Whereabouts are you when you're not on Vulcan? :wink: This may be useful to understand environmental factors.

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Last edited by edh on Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 11:42 am 
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fastturtle wrote:
As to the AMD option, based on total power draw, it's not. Performance wise, the Xeon is 2.5x the APU offerings while needing half the power. That pretty much seals the fate of the AMD as being unsuited to our needs and Yes I do know that the APU accounts for the bulk of the demand. Another factor that comes into play is the lack of an M-SATA port on the AMD board and the effect on boot/reboot speeds is becoming important.

AMD Counterpoint: A 65W FM2 APU is obviously the better choice. The A10-5700 below (data from AMD site, wholesale qty pricing) is selling for $130 now, the A8 is not available yet. You can expect prices to drop a bit soon.

AMD A8-5500 APU (3.2/3.7Ghz, 65W, 4MB total dedicated L2 cache, socket FM2) $101
AMD A10-5700 APU (3.4/4.0Ghz, 65W, 4MB total dedicated L2 cache, socket FM2) $122

mSATA w/ SSD vs SATA w/ SSD -- no appreciable difference in either power draw or boot time. I pulled a 128gb Kingston HyperX 3K 128 (on SATA 3.0) from SPCR's video card test platform system and replaced it with a Kingston MS100 64GB mSATA drive. If there was any power difference, our AC test meters did not have the resolution to pick it up (it is accurate to 1W), no difference was seen. Boot times? Within a second or 2.
xan_user wrote:
Storage capacity isn't as important as I'll be using a NAS with 6+TB of mirrored storage. Any suggestions on a low powered NAS with Good Throughput and I/O would be appreciated.

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/nas/nas-charts/view is a good source of info on NAS boxes. File copy write performance is ranked on the linked page, and individual reviews measure power in idle & w/ drives powered down.

My home server (and SPCR's) is now the sample HP Proliant MicroServer we reviewed a year ago -- with the fan mod described on p.7, a 32GB SSD for the OS in place of the optical drive, and 4 WD Green/Red HDDs for 13TB of storage, plus an external eSATA 2TB WD for critical data backups from the server. I get as high as 120mb/sec for a single large file copy transfer on the gigabit network, depending on size of file & system I'm pulling from. A large folder (say a TB) with thousands of files & subfolders might avg. 50mb/sec. The MicroServer idles at ~38W AC... but much depends on the HDD config. W/ 2 WD Greens, it was 25W.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:18 pm 
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fastturtle wrote:
Eventually, we'll be building a new Off Grid home and we're working to get our total demand down so a 1Kw PV array is large enough. Our current demand is over 44Kw per day according to our electric bill. That's what we really need to drop and I'm hoping to get down to below 5Kw per day.


44kWH/day implies air conditioning. :D I'm averaging 6-7kWH/day, no A/C, gas range and water heater.

If you happen to live in an area with tiered rates, the best payback is to add enough panels to get your use into the lowest tier(s) rather than trying to go for zero grid pull. For example, the tier pricing here is roughly $0.13/kWH, 0.15, 0.30, 0.34.
Payback for solar to replace the $0.30 and 0.34/kWH rates is pretty straight forward. Below that, it's a long haul. On the other hand, if you do build up more panels, then you can use time of day metering and the empty house when you are at work to feed the grid during the high rate times and suck power from the grid at lower rate times (7p to 9a).

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:04 am 
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If you're having to put those levels of power into air conditioning I would think that you need to do something about your house, how it is insulated and ventilated. Adding PV panels to generate the electricity needed would seem inefficient.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:11 am 
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One of the best ways to save power is to stop Folding@Home. I asked a bio-chemist about Folding@Home, and he said it was a waste of time even if the power to run the computer was free.


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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:59 pm 
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m0002a wrote:
One of the best ways to save power is to stop Folding@Home.

Running WCG/BOINC (pretty much the same as F@H) adds 100W to my base, less than $1 a day even at California PG&E tier 3 pricing...

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:37 pm 
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cmthomson wrote:
Running WCG/BOINC (pretty much the same as F@H) adds 100W to my base, less than $1 a day even at California PG&E tier 3 pricing...

  • If you donated the $300 yearly cost of the extra electricity you pay to a charity, you would be doing infinitely more good in the world.
  • Running F@H wastes precious energy resources, contributes to dependence on foreign nations for our energy needs (often leading to war and other conflicts), and increases global warming.
  • There is absolutely no scientific justification for F@H according to every scientist I have asked.


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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:45 am 
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fastturtle wrote:
Eventually, we'll be building a new Off Grid home and we're working to get our total demand down so a 1Kw PV array is large enough. Our current demand is over 44Kw per day according to our electric bill. That's what we really need to drop and I'm hoping to get down to below 5Kw per day.

Not sure where your off-grid home will be, but I can pretty much guarantee that a 1 kW PV array won't be enough to satisfy a 5 kWh/day demand unless your off-grid home will be somewhere very sunny - and then only in the summer months. Never mind that you'll want a couple days buffer for cloudy days, or a gas-generated for backup.

I estimate you'll want at least a 2 kW PV array to satisfy a 5 kWh/day demand in most parts of the country.

Being grid-tied is a huge benefit for PV since it lets you use the grid as a very large, very efficient battery pack.


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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:45 pm 
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drees wrote:
fastturtle wrote:

Being grid-tied is a huge benefit for PV since it lets you use the grid as a very large, very efficient battery pack.

plus PGE can pay you nothing for the extra juice and then rake it in hand over fist by greedily selling it to your neighbors at full market value. screw the grid, cut the cord! (until power monopolies have to pay a fair rate for the power you are giving them.)

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:49 pm 
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xan_user wrote:
plus PGE can pay you nothing for the extra juice and then rake it in hand over fist by greedily selling it to your neighbors at full market value. screw the grid, cut the cord! (until power monopolies have to pay a fair rate for the power you are giving them.)

The only time you get screwed is if you generate more electricity in a year than you use. Otherwise you get full retail price. If you do generate more electricity than you use over the course of a year, you get credit at the wholesale rate. So don't install a system that generates more electricity than you use - it's that easy.

The cost to remain hooked up to the grid with a PV system is otherwise very minimal for all major utilities in California that I am aware of. Certainly much cheaper than batteries.


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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:07 pm 
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That's why I say to erect enough PV to get you down to tier 2 rates and then stop.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:02 pm 
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i sure would much rather see us adopt a version of solar payback more like the germans, where banks and land owners see putting in an array as literally pulling free money out of the sky.

a weird side effect of being grid tied and not getting paid as a producer, is you start leaving all the lights on and ripping out the natural gas furnace/hot water heater and going back to electric.

id like to see energy conservation remain high and have PV owners be encouraged (monetarily) to produce a lot more power than they use. that way power companies could take some of thier plants offline and stop wasting so many amps running power though all those miles of wire.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:03 pm 
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Neat thread idea!

I'm one person in an almost 500 sq ft apartment. I don't believe I have access to my meter directly, but I do get down-to-an-hour power usage numbers to nearest 10 watts from my provider (pic1 pic2).

According to that data, my apartment idles at around 60-70 W, including fridge, modem, router, two sleeping laptops, and any phantom loads from appliances.

When I'm out for a full day, I average around 40-50 W. I unplug what I can before I leave, so this should include only fridge, idle loads for range/stove, dishwasher, washer/dryer, and whatever else happens to be on my meter.

Having an hourly breakdown is pretty fun. I can see the difference between having room lights on for an hour vs only a smaller desk lamp, and I can pick out cooking hours pretty easily. I don't have a lot of electronic stuff so thankfully no vampire loads from TVs or DVRs or whatnot. By far the most intensive thing in my recent usage is my dryer: reliably 3-4 kWh extra every laundry day. I should really get a clothes rack.

Discounting days when I'm not home, I've been averaging around 4-5 kWh per day (160-200 W) recently. I have plain electric baseboard heating, and in heating season (in Vancouver really only November to February) I was closer to 7-9 kWh per day, with absolute highest day value 18.5 kWh (neighbours on four sides, east and north exposure, big double-pane windows). My current goal is to get down to under 4 kWh per day for my next bill in mid-May. A bigger goal is cutting down on my water usage: in February and April I averaged 128 l of hot and 88 l of cold water a day.

Compared to some other posters, B.C. hydro-based electricity is pretty cheap - $0.068/kWh under 22 kWh per day, $0.1019/kWh beyond that - but it's still nice to use little.

Like some of the other posters, I want the option of being more independent/sustainable in the future. It's nice to have an idea what I would need.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 7:36 pm 
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Location: Shi-Khan: Vulcan or MosEisley Tattonnie
Neil: Go to http://www.mrsolar.com and look at one of the 1Kw PV Arrays. Pretty reasonable price.

For those who don't know how a PV array is sized, it's the Totat watts per Hour (this varies based on the panels). A 1Kw arran will depending on area produce 5KW of power during Peak Sun (winter) production with over 8 KW produced during the summer.

ROI is going to be fairly quick depending on the extras - We're looking at one of the units and a 230v 50A Invertor for a new home (off-grid).

For those interested, I've got a PDF worksheet for deciding how large of a PV Array you need. I think I included the DOE Solar Inclination Map (not as accurate but good enough for initial planning).

We've been planning such a move for over 2 decades now and are about ready to do it - Off Grid and we will be cutting our power needs to 3kw per day through various means.

Digital convergence (we've got a nice 23 inch 1080 IPS display - Dell S2240M) for Computer/TV use
Building a new Xeon E3 1275 v2 ITX system using the Intel HD4000 (igp) on an AsRock Z77E itx board with WiFi and M-Sata port that'll get an Intel 24GB SSD as the boot drive (haven't decided but seriously looking at the new Seagate 4TB drives that are $100 less then the Hitachi/WD units. Might be limited time but $200 for a 4TB drive? Not a bad deal from Newegg right now. We're still debating on the Optical drive (DVD or BluRay). Overall cost is $1600 not counting the Wacom Cintiq I want (that's another $1000).

The big thing is, this offers us the most storage and such for all of our music, ever growing video collection and gaming capabilities. It'll also have a Hauppaugge Tuner/Video Capture Card in order to get rid of any TV's. It's possible that we may end up with a larger display - so long as it's 1080 or higher for a wall mount. Gaming should be pretty nice on 32incher and with the Cintiq now being a full 1080, it gives me a nice graphics design system for my artwork. I can also use it for while the main unit is displaying the news or what ever she wants to watch since the Xeon has enough headroom to run dual displays at the same time.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 11:57 am 
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It makes sense to try to consume less energy but you need to look at actual cost.

100 watt idle is 2.4 kWh a day, on the $0.30 tier, that's $0.72 a day, if you are really concerned or not in a place with California energy rates, that it $0.36 a day.

In comparison to my California rent, that's nearly nothing.

My energy saving motivation is heat, I don't need to add another 20 watts to my apartment when its 95 degrees (~35c).

With that in mind, roof insulation is huge and adding solar panels helps as a radiant barrier reducing solar heat gain in the areas they shade.

At the same time, you have to look at the big picture, solar panels are made in Asian semiconductor fabs (for the most part), that create pollution and use quite a bit of energy. A lot of people ignore that because its somewhere else. The other thing to look at is that the solar industry is not viable in areas where electricity is cheap and the government doesn't subsidize it. If you pay taxes, you are paying for a bunch of solar panels whose ROI would be negative except for all of the crooks in the energy industry (remember Enron and rolling blackouts?).

I drive past the old Solyndra building fairly often and the Tesla plant too.

Solyndra cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars after the management knew they couldn't compete with Asian solar panel pricing, that was some very dirty and costly politics.

Tesla makes luxury cars for the very rich and they do it in one of the largest auto plants in the world, the old NUMMI building. That building used to make somewhere around 1/2 million Toyotas and GMs every year, now it makes around 10,000 Teslas maybe. Can you see the problem there? If you can't, about 95% of the work force is gone and probably never coming back. You can blame it on the unions and GM mismanagement but that doesn't excuse our government from giving the plant to a company that will probably never reach 20% capacity.

Conserve and pay attention but don't spend good money after bad and realize that there is usually someone paying for everything that is "free" and most of the time its you.


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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 1:38 pm 
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Posts are diverging from the point of this thread: How much vampiric power do you have in your house, and what are you doing to decrease it?

Please post politics on another thread.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 9:14 pm 
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I haven't checked vampire power but I pay less than $200 a year total because its mostly an alarm clock, cell phone charger, 55" LCD TV, ps3 (mostly for blue ray), microwave, refrigerator and some ccfl lights.

My computer isn't 24/7 yet but I think that will add less than $50.

And by the way its not politics to figure out who's messing with you and add up the $$.

But I'm I guy who just joked with grandma about paying for her social security check on Mother's day so take it for what its worth.


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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 9:44 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Posts are diverging from the point of this thread: How much vampiric power do you have in your house, and what are you doing to decrease it?



i took my nas offline and now only boot it for backups, switched out my GF's old laptop for a desktop (on a powerstrip thats switched off when not used), retired the old HP office jet (that drew over 20 watts on standby) got a new LED monitor for my desktop and also took out a wireless ap. not sure how many Kw i dropped, but our bill is WAY lower than last year at this time. next thing on the list is putting the entertainment center/TV on a master switch.

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 Post subject: Re: My house idles at 75W
PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 1:03 pm 
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I have a Samsung femtocell for my Verizon cell service (otherwise, I'm dealing with 1-2 bar reception.) It's been acting poorly, so I pulled it's plug and am saving ~3-5W. It'll be replaced with a T-Mobile wifi calling enabled phone, soon. So, instead of 3-5W, it'll be whatever the always-charging smartphone uses.

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