Progressive Energy

Posted in General at 10 pm

Tonight I picked up a Kill A Watt meter that tracks the energy usage of an appliance. Right now I’ve got it between my iBook and the wall outlet, and I’m seeing how much energy my ‘book is using. Then I can compare it to some of the other computers around here as well as the appliances that we have. I’m particularly interested in checking out how much my G3 is taking up, since I have it running as a server which I’ve been leaving on for most of the time.

<rant>Not that I can schedule when my B&WG3 running OS X turns off and on of course, since startup and shut down scheduling are features that it has taken Apple *3* frickin’ years to put *back* into their operating system. And even then, I’ve got to wait till I pick up Panther in order to get it.</rant>

Since winter is coming on and Amy and I are trying to keep our bills down, I’m also interested in checking out what the most efficient way to keep warm is: the little electric heater, the electric blanket, the wall heaters are all basically unknowns to me in terms of the energy they use. Well no more!

I had been trying to justify picking one of these up for going on two years since I first read about them in Home Power magazine. They were running $40 to $60 online and such, but about 8 months ago I saw them at Radio Shack, still for about the same price.

Well, I went looking around for them again a couple months ago and it turns out that Radio Shack is selling off their remaining inventory, so I hunted high and low to find them and the Jantzen Beach Radio Shack had them for just $19.95. So after hemming and hawing and a little encouragement from Amy, I finally picked one up.

I’m a big fan of what I call Progressive Energy. Progressive Energy is about being aware of what I as an electricity-consuming person can do to minimize my waste energy. I consider Progressive Energy to be more approachable than Alternative Energy. I’d like to expound on that a bit.

To me, Alternative Energy is the glimpse into the future—the development of new sources of energy, many that are cleaner, renewable, and have a far smaller impact on the environment.

But Alternative Energy discussions often revolve around radical departures, without any kind of road map to transition existing infrastructure, tools, vehicles or appliances. It’s great that Alternative Energy programs are freed from that constraint, but I need things today that can help me get closer to that goal of cleaner living.

Progressive Energy is about laying out that road map, a path to get to that better future. Hybrid cars are a great example. Hybrids continue to use gasoline (bad) but they also use electric motors (good) and the development of hybrids is spurring (aka funding) the development of better batteries (good) and other pieces that will be necessary to improve vehicles in the future.

Once the more electric oriented technologies become more reliable and cheaper, the gasoline engine (that takes far more production and maintenance effort) will go away like a vestigial tail.

The Kill A Watt meter is a tool that helps me understand the impact I’m making. It lets me get an idea of how much energy I’m using (good) and how much money I’m spending (good) so that I can make more intelligent decisions and be wiser about being an energy miser.

I’ve picked up Home Power magazine because the idea of living comfortably and still being environmentally sensitive is a very enticing concept.

One of the key things that I’ve learned is that while trying to fulfill your own power needs is very interesting, true progress can be made simply by reducing your current uses and making wise choices about the energy that you’re already using.

In the future when Alterative Energy brings us clean, cheap, renewable energy that does little or no environmental damage, there will be no need to have a Kill A Meter. Until then, I’ll practice my own Progressive Energy techniques… today.

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