Energy Vampires

Well yesterday I received in the post a real-time energy use monitor which I had ordered free of charge from British Gas (you can download the order form from here:

I thought as it was free I would get one, but I didn’t honestly expect it to find anything untoward about our energy use, as we are pretty meticulous about it.

I noticed that when there was nothing really actively running, the house uses about 300w constantly. I thought, well, that’s probably the fridge and various little LED clocks on the cooker, microwave etc.

But this morning, just to see what happened, I flicked the wall switch off that our induction hob is plugged into. Now normally it just sits there on standby with a little red LED to indicate power. But to my amazement, as I switched it off standby, the energy monitor display fell from about 300w to about 120w!! I couldn’t believe it!! The ‘blessed’ high-efficiency induction hob gobbles about 180w just sitting there on standby!!

Energy vampires . . . they are everywhere. You can’t be too vigilant.

So the energy monitor has paid for itself already (ok ok I know it was free).



  1. Steve said,

    March 15, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    No way I can’t believe you leave things on standby. Surely that’s a rookie error?! 😉

    • March 15, 2010 at 3:05 pm

      Normally no, but I must admit there are a few things in the kitchen like the cooker and microwave which have a clock normally stay on. And the induction hob slipped through the net!

      That’ll ‘learn me’, won’t it! 😉

  2. Steve Cunio said,

    March 15, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    It certainly will! I’ll download that application form and send off for one of those though. Thanks for the link.

    Not forgotten about coffee and stove. Will text when have a spare moment. No rush. 🙂

  3. Steve said,

    March 17, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Have just printed off the voucher… did you get both the standby saver and the real time electricity monitor?

    • March 17, 2010 at 8:47 pm

      I just got the electricity monitor, we use ‘Byron’ remote control sockets from B&Q on all the wall sockets to make sure nothing sits there on standby (almost).

  4. Foggy said,

    March 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Nice work Andy..keep it up (which of course you will do anyhow) looks slick and very edible.
    Electricity monitor on it’s way to me as of is it at monitoring VST power consumption? -;)

    • March 20, 2010 at 10:15 am

      Actually I find my VSTs to be some of my worst offenders, or at least the desktop computer that runs them, especially if I’m using peripherals like the guitar pod or especially an external HDD, it really sucks up the power, and for extended periods of time, which is the killer. I would try not to use it in a long power cut because it drains the batteries too fast. A day or two I would be OK for though.

      Being uninspired is good for your carbon footprint! Always look on the bright side etc. And you never know what acoustic sessions you might be missing out on, sat in front of a screen.

      Glad I don’t have a load of music hardware though. The one music PC eats enough as it is.

  5. Foggy said,

    April 21, 2010 at 3:09 am

    It’s interesting Andy that you’ve found your PC & peripherals to be so power hungry as after testing I’ve found that running my PC, monitor, speakers, firewire interface, USB MIDI interface & external HDs to be surprisingly low..much lower than I expected – around 0.05 kw/h. Compared to the staggering amount of consumption when I stick the kettle on I think that’s pretty good. One brew probably uses more energy than the PC system uses in a week at those rates! The only explanification must be that the energy efficiency settings on my motherboard and the silent cooling systems actually do work. I think the main surprise for me is that the amps in the studio monitors don’t ramp up the usage considerably..I wonder whether the convection cooling has an influence on this?
    One thing I did discover was that the power adapters for external drives, when the drives are switched off, use the same amount of energy as when the drives are in use..unplug those wallwarts when not in use is the moral of that story.
    I have yet to look at the hardware usage, I suspect that will be fairly high, especially the console, though I do only switch on hardware as and when it is needed, which is pretty rare nowadays. I shall report back on that one.

    On a slight tangent..
    TIP: If you get out in the woods over the next week or two you may find yourself a nice crop of wild garlic (only pick the leaves and cook it as you would spinach). Be sharp on that one though as it is beginning to flower and will most probably be gone within a couple of weeks as it has a very short growing period.

    • April 21, 2010 at 8:08 am

      Yes definitely compared to the kettle etc the desktop computer is very light on the juice, although the kettle is only on for a few seconds of course.

      It’s all relative . . . I was comparing my pc not to the kitchen appliances but to the other stuff on my solar powered circuit – laptop and hi-fi amp downstairs; solar hot water system; wood stove circulation pump; desk lamps etc. Compared to that lot it is really power hungry! I haven’t actually measured it with the meter as I haven’t had it switched on since I got the meter, but I am guessing at about 350watts-ish. I use a LCD monitor which helps keep the power consumption down. It’s a Pentium 4 based machine which I built myself a few years back, and like yours it has a quiet fan etc – I’ve looked into getting a more efficient machine with solid state hard drives etc, but considering that my existing machine works perfectly well, and the amount I actually use it, it’s just not worth it at the moment.

      Agree about external hard drives, mine stay locked in a drawer unless I am making a backup!

      We are probably paying about £25 a month for electricity at the moment, which works out to about 5 or 6 kWh a day, well below the average of 10, and that includes our cooking too. We don’t have a gas bill. 🙂 I must get around to doing the carbon footprint calculation, but I would hope it would come out at a good 70% cut on the average, for the house. We do have 2 Minis though which will bump it up a bit, although of course we do use trams/buses regularly too when possible/appropriate. We don’t fly.

      Thanks for the wild garlic tip, unfortunately most weekends I don’t get much further than the back garden, due to the ol’ day job taking up most of the week. But the next time I am out and about I will definitely keep my eyes peeled!!

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