Saturday, October 28, 2006

Power Consumption

One of the problems with all of the gadgets running in our house is it uses a lot of electricity to keep everything going. Starting in the summer of 2005, I began to work on reducing our electricity usage. The obvious things were changing out most of our light bulbs for compact fluorescent (and upgrading from standard X10 light switches to Leviton X10 switches for non-incandescent loads). Tons of Hawkeye motion sensors were sprinkled thoughout the house (they talk to the W800 RF receiver which starCOM interfaces to). Lights are turned off in all rooms now based on motion. This has worked well with 2 little kids running around the house leaving things on.

DC power supplies can use anywhere from 3-5 (or more watts) all day long. We probably have 50 or so of these in the house. Most of our chargers are on appliance modules that are on timer so they don't suck power all day. During the night when we all go to sleep, the system turns off the power to some TVs and modulators (which are on appliance modules). It also turns off a lot of those DC power supplies that aren't charging anything. It turns them back on in the morning.

The system knows the state of security system so when we leave the house, it forces all non-essential PCs to hibernate.

DS10 alarm sensors are put on some windows and talk to the W800. This way, the system knows that windows are open and will not turn on the HVAC. LM34 temperature sensors are distributed throughout the house, and the HVAC system is only activated when the coldest/warmest room needs it. Outside temperature sensors tell the system that it's no longer necessary to run HVAC and will remind us to open the windows, etc. In the summer, box fans are put in the windows when it's cool enough to open them. They're on appliance modules and turn off when the room they're in is cool enough.

I've also done a lot of server consolidation, going from 4 full time servers to only 2 right now. There's also been a fair amount of weather proofing done eventhough our house was brand new when we moved in.

Here's a graph of our electricity usage & cost since we moved in. You can click it for a larger view. We've cut it down about 50% from our highest peak usage.



For reference, we have all electric appliances, except a gas range and gas water heater.

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