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Monday, March 08, 2004

Phantom Loads and Dehumidifiers
My preparations for installing a solar-power system have uncovered some watt-sapping suspects. Even though I don't use air conditioning, my summer electric bills have been way higher than my winter bills. I have gas heat, but still I should be using less light and less in general during the summer, since I am home and inside less. The prime suspect? The dehumidifier. I bought a small humidity meter the other day so I'll be able to track my need for dehumidifying better this summer. I've also read that "phantom loads," appliances and electronics that are on even when they're off, like TV's, VCR's and other devices with remotes and microwave ovens with clocks, use substantial amounts of energy. I've ordered a watt meter so I can get a better idea of where the power is going, but I've already made a preemptive strike on several phantom loads, putting my computer and entertainment systems on power strips and making sure to turn those off when I'm done using the equipment.

I'm excited about having the solar system, but I suspect that my biggest energy savings (and definitely the biggest dollar savings) will come from these conservation efforts, not from the solar panels. I certainly suggest that you look at your utility bills and get your hands on a watt meter to track down your biggest energy guzzlers. We don't pay much for electricity in this country, but it isn't cheap. We can save a lot of energy (and cut down on the associated pollution and wars) by making a few simple changes which will have only minimal impact on our lifestyles. If we are willing to change our lifestyles more substantially, much more is possible.

And that's your sermon for the day!