The Hidden Cost of Your Computer

We at the money vikings like to save our money for things that matter in that ultimate road to wealth and happiness. One fun way you can save some money is by monitoring how much energy you are using in your home with various devices such as computer, washer, dryers, vacuum cleaner.

I recently got a new computer and I was curious how much energy it was using to keep powered on and plugged in all the time. An easy way to monitor this is using a kill-a-watt. I plugged my computer into it and turned it on. It showed on the display that I was using 75.9 watts of electricity while I was using my computer to write this post, slightly more than 1 incandescent 60 watt lightbulb as a point of comparison. If you are running a backup, processing a lot of data, or mining bitcoin, you will see the numbers on the kill-o-watt go up!

So what’s this all mean? If I were to leave this computer running (not in sleep or hibernation mode) for 24 hours, it would consume 1.8 killowatts/day. I’m currently in Tier 1 for my energy, so this is currently costing me about 23 cents/killowatt,  .41 cents per day, or $12.30/month. But that’s not the whole story. In a few more days, I will enter Tier 2, where this will start to cost 30 cents/kilowatt or 54 cents/day. For a whole month in Tier 2 (or higher, I’d be paying over 15 dollars just for my computer. I figure if I have the first 15 days at Tier 1 and the second 15 days at tier 2, I’d pay around 13 bucks/month to keep my computer running 24×7.  If I put the computer into sleep mode while I’m not using, it still uses a tiny bit of electricity, but I am saving significantly by just taking advantage of the automated sleep/hibernation mode.

Try getting a kill-o-watt and move it around your home for a few days so you can learn how much energy various things in your household cost to run, such as a washing machine or dryer. How much per load of Laundry? If you are on a Time of Use plan, where the rates/kilowatt change depending on the time of day, you can actually figure out the cost of doing a load of laundry in the evening versus the daytime, when demand is higher and the price per kilowatt goes up.

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