Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Observing Earth Hour 2011

Earth Hour in 2011 is observed on 26th March, from 8:30pm to 9:30pm. People around the globe will switch off lights and commit to actions that go beyond the hour. At https://zitseng.com/, I will observe Earth Hour by switching to a dimmed style for the website. It’s not quite the same as switching off the lights, but if you think about AMOLED displays, less power is consumed to display a dimmed page. It’s a show of support. I started to blog about Earth Hour since 2009. This year, I want to share a little more.

If you try to preach about saving the Earth, going green, recycling, environmental sustainability, etc… many people are not going to be moved to change how they live their lives. Now, if it is something that directly impacts them, maybe they will pay attention.

This year, saving the Earth is growing more relevant to our everyday lives than ever. Look at the rising energy costs. Crude oil is now at US$105 per barrel. Sure, it’s not yet at the July 2008 levels (it peaked at US$147 per barrel in the midst of the Iranian missile crisis), but it sure looks headed that way.

So, saving energy is going to make a lot of money sense. We used to be put off by higher capital outlay needed to invest in energy efficiency, but you could really save money in the long run.

Recently, while researching on components to build into my new DIY PC, I gave some thought to energy. How about investing in a more costly but more energy efficient power supply? I did some sums. The contenders were two types of power supply units (PSU): the Cooler Master eXtreme Power Plus 550W that is “normal”, and another Cooler Mater GX-550W that has the 80Plus energy efficieny rating. Both are specified as 550W maximum output.

Cooler Master eXtreme Power Plus 550W Cooler Master GX-550W
Price S$85 S$109
Typical Efficiency 70% 85%

Let’s look at some calculations. Although this is a 550W PSU, our typical running load will probably be much less, let’s say 300W. This should be around about where the PSU achieves its “typical efficiency”. This means that when operating at 300W output, the less efficient PSU is going to draw 75W more power (428W vs 353W) than the more efficient one.

Electricity costs 24.1 cents per kWh today. This means that every hour that the PC is switched on,1.8 cents is wasted by the less efficient power supply. If you use your PC for 2 hours a day every day of the year, it will cost you $13.20. Over three years (a realistic lifespan of a desktop PC), that’s $39.58. That’s well worth the initial premium you’d pay for the more efficient power supply!

Now, for people like me, the PC will run like a server on a 24×7 basis. That means, I’m looking at a savings of $158 a year, or $475 over 3 years! That’s more than enough to buy the whole of the better PSU 3 times over! (Note that there are even more efficient PSUs that specify typical efficiency of up to 92%.)

This may be just an example, but it uses real numbers. These are real savings.

It shows that if you give some thought to the energy efficiency of the things you use and buy, it can go a long way not just to help save the Earth, but also save you money. It only makes sense that businesses and individuals will do the right thing if they can see how caring for Earth will directly benefit them.

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