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5 REDUCE PLUG LOADS BY 33%

This action focuses on tracking all appliances to understand where energy is being used in appliances and reduce this use by 33%.

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WHY?

Appliance electricity use accounts for 37% of total household energy across the nation. The largest users are refrigeration, television, clothes dryers, computers and cooking which account for 3-5% each. While many other appliances may only account for 1% or less of total energy, their collective use adds up to be the second largest energy user in homes today. The breakdown is as follows (from the Energy Information Administration, EIA):





Refrigeration 5%
Color TC 5%
Clothes dryers 3%
Personal Computers 3%
Cooking 3%
Furnace fans, boiler ciculation pumps 2%
Dishwashers 1%
Freezers 1%
Clothes Washers 0.5%
Other Appliances all less than 1% each 14%
TOTAL 37%

Many of these appliances could be turned off or unplugged when not in use, or used less often. Most people may be surprised to see which appliances use the most energy in their homes.


how to do this action:

This action requires participants to:

Step 1: Compile a list of any appliances which are plugged in on a daily basis in each room of your house.

Step 2: Use an electrical meter such as a Kill-A-Watt meter to calculate the wattage/hr of each appliance. If you cannot purchase a Kill-A-Watt meter (around $25) you can look up wattage amounts for each appliance online.

Step 3: Determine how much time on average each appliance is used daily. Keep track of how long you use appliances that are only plugged in temporarily (ex: hairdryer, laptop or stereo).

Step 4: Using the wattage/hr and time of use values, determine the total watts/day of all 'plug loads'.

Step 5: At the bottom of the spreadsheet, the total kWh/Day is tabulated as well as what your goal kWh/day (with a 33% reduction of energy) will be.

An example of this evaluation is found below:

Spreadsheet

A graphic interpretation of these metrics is seen below, organized by room:

Bar and pie graphs

In this example, the kitchen (in blue) totals around 70% of all appliance energy in this home. The largest plug load by far is the refrigerator. This energy use could be reduced by storing full water jugs in empty space in the fridge (increasing thermal mass) or using a smaller refrigerator all together. For more information about how to reduce refrigerator energy, see this action.

The second biggest electrical user is the television (10% of all electricity). Turning off the television when not in use instead of leaving it on as background noise could go a long way to reducing plug loads. The office has several moderate electrical users-laptop and external monitor. Even though a computer and external monitor have fairly low wattage/hr values, they are used for a large portion of the day, which adds up. Turning these off when not in use will also help to reduce this energy.

The smallest appliance electricity uses are found in the bathroom and bedroom. A hair dryer is one of the highest wattage appliances in this example, but is used for such a small amount of time that is only 2% of all energy. Still, if it is unnecessary, eliminating this use could help to be closer to reaching the goal of a 33% reduction. In the same way, unplug a clock in the bedroom if a cell phone (which is already charging) could be used instead.


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: How much total energy (as documented on your electric bill) can be saved by reducing your plug loads by 33%?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of finding ways to reduce your plug loads by 33% affect your happiness, convenience, health and costs?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (E5_BASELINE) to inventory current plug load energy consumption.

  • (1) Begin with listing each appliance in each room of your house.
  • (2) Make sure to designate the setting of each appliance, (list the item twice if different settings are used often).
  • (3) Meter all items. If using a meter such as a Kill-A-Watt meter, the metric which will be given to you is in kWh/hr. Be sure to convert this number to watts/hr before listing on the chart. If you do not have a meter or cannot meter a certain appliance, use online resources to look up their averages.
  • (4) List the time on per day.
  • (5) In the following column, list the hours on/day as a number without units.
  • (6) Enter all numbers on the Excel spreadsheet to get calculated Total Watts/Day and Total kWh/Day. All electricity bills are listed as total kWh per month, so this is an important metric to understand.
  • (7) Determine the total kWh/Day (at the bottom of the spreadsheet) and ‘goal’ kWh/day with a 33% reduction.

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria using the spreadsheet (E5_BASELINE) as it relates to your current appliance/electricity use habits:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
Use the corresponding spreadsheet (E5_QUANTITATIVE) to create a plan for reducing plug loads by 33%.

  • (1) Re-list all appliances, settings, wattage and old hours/day.
  • (2) Determine strategies to reduce or eliminate this use by modifying the ‘New Hours/day’ column. First replace all uses which can be eliminated with a ‘0’. If you are still not within your goal 33% reduction, begin to reduce other uses as necessary.

On the ‘TOTAL ELECTRIC USAGE’ chart, enter your most recent electric bill (before project began) as a baseline. Then, simply enter your electric use from each monthly bill you receive throughout the project (in kWh). Determine the energy saved compared to your baseline.

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria each week of the project on the spreadsheet (E5_QUALITATIVE). Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences changing this action in your life. Report on your experiences understanding how much energy each of your appliances uses: Did knowing how much energy each appliance uses change your patterns of use? What new habits did you develop when attempting to reduce your appliance electricity? Which changes significantly affected the way you live? Which were relatively easy? How did the way you spend your time change based on the changes in energy consumption?


Resources

ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

E5_Reduce Plug Loads By 33% Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

E5_BASELINE
E5_QUANTITATIVE
E5_QUALITATIVE