Killing Watts (and Saving Dollars)

Thor Ritz, here with another Tuesday post. Last week’s venture to Las Vegas was exhausting! Upon returning to NYC all I wanted to do was hunker down indoors and catch up on all the school work I’d let pile up while out west. Like any dutiful college student, though, I was able to find something to distract me from my studies. My procrastination device of choice? The Kill-A-Watt.

IMG_0815This nifty little gadget lets you monitor the energy usage of any household appliance. Just plug in your mechanism of choice and the Kill-A-Watt gives a reading of it’s wattage (the amount of electricity that it is using at any one time) and of it’s it electricity use over time (measured in kilowatt-hours, the unit used in your utility bills). The idea is that you can then compare appliances, calculate costs, and reduce your usage.

For example, I was able to determine which of my two fans is a more efficient white-noise maker (a necessity for sound sleep in a large apartment building). The Kill-A-Watt reported that my rickety old steel fan, surprisingly, uses less than 38% of the electricity that my new window fan requires. In the short term, the difference in savings would be negligible but over the long haul the substitution would be significant.

Saving some money, of course, is not the only thing at stake here. Equally important is the need to reduce the amount of energy generated by polluting power plants. But making the necessary reductions won’t come from me sitting alone in my apartment obsessing over the Kill-A-Watt. It will come from all sorts of people acting together, finding ways in their everyday lives to save money while also saving the environment.

CUNY students from the Hunter Solar Project proved this point a while ago when they initiated a month-long energy conservation campaign at the Brookdale Residence Hall. By posting energy saving tips and going room to room, they succeeding in cutting the usage by an estimated 9%, or a whopping 9,000 kwh!  This should be interpreted as a challenge to the rest of us.  How can we make similar reductions in the places we live and work?

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