Monday, October 29, 2007

is saving a penny worth it?

As a blogger blogging about ways to save a few cents here and there, one has to consider whether it's "worth it" to focus energy on saving small amounts when the resource consumptions issues are so large. I try to at least only focus on areas where the savings are "easy" so that the cost of learning about and implementing the savings are not out weighed by the opportunity cost (I could be outside planting a tree or for really low payback savings things I could instead be riding a bike to generate electricity )

One definitely has to acknowledge that saving a few dollars on electricity is not going to solve global warming, but it's easy to look at the big problems and feel discourage about your ability to impact on a big scale, and we certainly don't want people to learn helplessness (c.f. Martin Seligman who does research that shows if you learn that your actions have no affect it can lead to unhappiness or depression like symptoms and you no longer take action to change the situation even if it's easy Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control)

So, while we are still looking for big ways to help, is it worth it to tackle the little things?

Turning off the lights when you aren't in the room saves a few cents a day (or week if you are using fluorescent or LEDs)
Turning off the water while brushing your teeth

To the average well-to-do american (and by that I mean almost all of us are well-to-do by international standards) the financial reward and or vague hard to quantify environmental reward may not be enough to make it worth our while or hit us in the pocketbooks (which is americanese for "make it worth our while")

However, for all those of you who have ever said "If I had a nickel for every..." think about all those electrons saved in aggregate!

I'm reminded of a book I read once about the history of American Airlines and how their chairman pushed for cost savings, and they saved multi tens of thousands of dollars a year in GAS by going from two olives in their salads to one.

When you are the size of walmart, taking the light out of employee coke machines saves $1 million / year in electricity according to this article:
How Wal-Mart is saving millions with clean tech | Tech news blog - CNET

So if everybody could reduce the amount of lighting electricty they used by a little bit, and turn off the water while brushing their teeth, maybe it'd add up to a number that may not solve anything relative to our GDP but would sound like a big number for most of our wallets, and that'd help motivate us to do the easy and small things to help save resources.

Coming soon power measurement comparisons of the 65nm "falcon" revision of the xbox360 that is silently appearing on shelves now, with the old version.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Inhabitat » GET A TAX CUT FOR GOING GREEN - by Dec 2007!

Inhabitat » GET A TAX CUT FOR GOING GREEN - by Dec 2007!

One could argue that the government is realizing they are going to be the ones to pay for cleaning up from our energy consuming ways and so they are buying your action now at a discount rather than paying for clean up later.

In any case if you're reading this you're probably already interested in "greening" your home so you might as well take advantage of this tax credit before it goes away!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ann Arbor street lights to be replaced with LEDs - Engadget

Ann Arbor street lights to be replaced with LEDs - Engadget: "

Flying over the country deffinitely makes you realize how much light is used to light the outdoors(and thus money and future money to reduce carbon emissions and save the enviroment)

Despite my fervent wish for motion sensors the trend seems to be in switching to LEDs (Though motion sensors would be cheaper and still solve the safety issue -- though I question the $ effectiveness of streetlights everywhere vs. $ spent on police or other safety)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

WD Caviar GP: The "Green" 1 TB Drive | Tom's Hardware

WD Caviar GP: The "Green" 1 TB Drive | Tom's Hardware

Another instance of tech company branding themselves as green. In this case it's not greenwashing, they have added technology to spin the hard drive more slowly when it's not in heavy use. Granted most energy efficient desktops spin down the drive to 0rpm when not in use, but this doesn't always work because windows or some other piece of software might access the drive once a minute. This will also be especially useful for servers that over night still get requests but aren't heavily hit. It won't be huge savings but a little bit on every one of google's rumored 450,000 servers would add up to a lot!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

VMware tool tries new twist on power savings | Underexposed - CNET

VMware tool tries new twist on power savings | Underexposed - CNET

VMWare has virtualization software that lets you move the functions a server is performing to another server. Typically this is done to save money on server hardware (put two lightly used functions on one server) or recently they have been getting in to dynamically moving server instances to spare servers when extra load is needed. However they have taken that to the next step (for the opposite scenario) to save power and shut down unneeded servers by moving their functions to a single server.

Not exactly implementable for the average us consumer, but interesting (to me anyway) nonetheless.

The drawback usually is that the cost of the vmware software to do this, is high enough to make it much easier to just pay for a lot of extra server hardware and a lot of extra power. And really if the cost is that high for the softwrae, that means they are paying lots of programmers to work on this, and those programmers could be working on building solar cells or something like that. Or at least that's how I just ify being cheap and just buying another $500 dell server instead of a $3000 vmware license.

G'Day: Australia to Ban All Plasmas & Some LCDs by 2011? - Gizmodo

G'Day: Australia to Ban All Plasmas & Some LCDs by 2011? - Gizmodo

The government in australia is getting in to the energy reduction game. First england takes on wall warts and other things drawing standby power, then california takes on incandescent bulbs and now asutralia is going after power hungry plasmas and some LCDs.

I'm sure the libertarians think people should be making these decisions, but I think given that the full costs of power doesn't include future environmental clean up costs it's probably a good idea for governements to force consumers hands. Disagree with me in the comments!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mishmash TV show created to judge power consumption - Engadget

Mishmash TV show created to judge power consumption - Engadget

A consortium is getting together to have a standard set of material to play while measuring TV power usage.

A lot of my measurements are just instantaneous measurements. How much was the tv using at the moment I looked at the kill-a-watt. I sometimes will watch for a range that the nubmer is bouncing over and list that range. But really we should be measuring how much power is used to do something. Ie how much power is consumed in toasting a piece of bread or watching a movie. The problem is that we like different movies and different toastiness of bread (to you all you half burned crunchy people out there --> you're weird ;) ) Hence these people's efforts to have a standard measureement set of viedoes. Hopefully it will be reasonably priced and available on DVD/HDDVD/Bluray and not get embroiled in copyright debate. That would expend a lot of unnecessary energy.