How Much Energy Is Used At Your Computer Desk?
Author: Rutledge Feman
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 07-14-2008
Provided by: P3 International
Discuss: View Comments
Some Readings...

Phantom energy is everywhere, or so they say. Because there are little PCBs in everything these days, all of your appliances are pulling a little bit of auxiliary power. Who would ever have thought that it would be a bad thing to have a digital clock on your oven, stove, radio AND refrigerator?

The newspapers write practically every week that you should unplug your cell-phone charger when you're not using it, and not to leave it plugged into a full phone. It's costing you big bucks, they say. Now, I know the Kill-A-Watt only measures to centi-amperes, but let's take a moment to expand on these findings. I'm going to use 17 cents as the cost per kilowatt-hour here, which seems like a fair national average for the U.S. from what I've read (The sockets in my house are 120V).

<0.01A < 1.2W; 1.2W * 365D = 438WD; 438WD * 24H/D = 10512WH; 10512WH * 1kW/1,000W = 10.512kWH; 10.512kWH * $0.17/kWH = $1.79

All of that poorly written math just goes to show that my cell-phone charger, which pulls less than 10mA will cost me less than $1.80 a year. Now, I don't know about you, but I can totally afford an extra two bucks a year so I don't have to climb under my desk and plug/unplug my charger twice a day. The clock radio, on the other hand, is another story. Leaving this plugged in runs you a whopping $3.57 per year, which, in my room with clocks also on the VCR and on the computer, makes it seem like I should be relieving my generic clock of its duties. After all, I don't much listen to the radio outside of the car, and my cell-phone makes a much more reliable (not susceptible to power outages) alarm clock. Let's have a look at some of the stuff you'll find at your desk, though. That's the real reason you're here, right?

Specs for the rig in the chart are:

MSI X38 Platinum (BIOS 1.3)
intel Core2 Quad Q6600 : OCZ Vendetta 2
Diablotek GeForce 8600GT 1GB
OCZ Reaper 2x1GB PC3-10666 6-6-6-20
WD 74GB Raptor (10K), WD 500GB CaviarSE16 (7.2K)
PC Power & Cooling Silencer Quad 750W Crossfire Edition
Lite-On 20x DVDĪR/W SATA
Lian-Li PC-A77 with 5x120mm fans
Windows XP Professional, 32bit

USB Powered Components:
Logitech G15 Keyboard
Razer Lachesis Mouse
Logitech QuickCam Express Webcam

Here, we find some interesting news. What's my printer doing drawing 6W when it's off? That's almost 9 bucks a year down the drain for something I hardly ever use. Paper is so 90s, anyway. And my speakers, at 8.4W, that's $12.50 for a year of silence. My, this is starting to add up! Suddenly, it doesn't seem like such a cool idea to have all of this hot hardware anymore, and I have a pretty lightweight card in there right now. All of this is nice and all, but what does it really mean for you? It's clearer than you might expect, continue onÖ

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