I emailed Chris Dalby of Current Cost a question about their devices a few weeks ago. Chris, not only answered my question but also offered to send me one of their energy monitors to try for myself!
I love my Current Cost Envi 128. It is incredibly straightforward to setup – even I could do it, despite living in an apartment complex with no access to the electricity meter. I had mine up and running within minutes of receiving the delivery (I attached the clamp to the wire going into the fuseboard)!
One of the really great things about the Current Cost energy meters is that they can be connected to a computer. This may not sound like a big deal but it means you can use software from the downloads page to chart your energy usage in real-time as well as for storing historical data. This allows for fascinating comparisons of energy use across different scenarios.
The software for Google PowerMeter is available on the Current Cost site [after registration]. One disappointing aspect of the Powermeter software is that it is Windows only. Fortunately I have Windows installed (via Parallels) on my Mac so this wasn’t a major issue for me.
The biggest issue I came across with the Current Cost Envi and PowerMeter software is, if you want an accurate picture of your energy use, you need to leave your computer turned on running the PowerMeter software all the time! Obviously this is not very energy-efficient!
I participated in the recent IBM Global Eco Jam and there were some fantastic discussions there.
One of the discussions surprised me though – people were still talking about unplugging mobile phone chargers as if that was a significant problem. It is not. On the contrary, it is a dangerous distraction.
Watch the video above. Seriously, do. I’ll wait.
The mobile phone chargers I tested all consumed 0.1W or less of electricity when left plugged in and not charging a phone. That is minute.
Sure, I get that if you add up all the millions of mobile phone chargers across the country, all those millions of 0.1W adds up to a significant load. I get that. I do.
LED spot light
However, if you change one 50W halogen bulb for a 3.6W LED alternative that is the equivalent of unplugging over 460 mobile phone chargers. And that’s just from changing one bulb. How many bulbs do you have in your house? How many houses are there across the country containing how many bulbs?
Or forget light bulbs. What about the electricity draw of other devices in your house when they are plugged in but not operating (this is called standby power!)?
Mobile phone chargers, for some reason, seem to have been picked up by people as the bad boys when it comes to standby power. That is a dangerous fallacy. Why dangerous? People who are trying to do the right thing are ensuring that they unplug their mobile phone chargers, potentially unaware that their microwave/printer/games console is consuming orders of magnitude more power than the phone charger.
Switchable power strip
Don’t get me wrong, sure you shouldn’t leave your phone charger plugged in, but it is likely that there are far larger standby draws in your home or office you should be aware of. Educate yourself. Find out which of your devices draws the most power