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The Hidden Cost of Your Water Cooler

A big part of reducing your home's energy footprint, is simply understanding where exactly the energy gets used.  It could be argued that I'm somewhat obsessed with measuring things, and I'm OK with that, so long as there is some meaningful purpose to it.  As previously posted here, I take a critical look at common things many folks have in their homes, and find out what it costing them.  Today's post is about the good old fashioned bottled water cooler.  The model I tested was a Oasis Model BPO1SHS Bottle Cooler.  This model has an Energy Star Rating, has both hot and cold spigots, and a more contemporary appearance.  It is what most water delivery companies offer as an 'upgrade' model, over the typical single spigot, non-cooled models.

I measured the energy usage over a twenty-five day period in order to get a good average usage reading.  To measure, I used a Kill A Watt Model P4400 cumulative energy recording meter.  My blended cost of utility power where I live is $0.10187 per kWh (before taxes).  The test took place in a home with a family of four.  Here are my results:

  • When running, the cooler drew about 81 watts of energy, which is roughly 25% more energy than the most commonly used incandescent 60 watt light bulb
  • Over the 25 day period, the cooler used about 39.56 kWh, or about 1.54 kWh per day
  • Annualized, my cooler will cost about $57.21, which is about $4.77 per month

Of course, there are dozens of coolers available, varied usage of energy depending upon a families consumption of the bottled water, and a variance in electricity cost based on where you live.  However, if my results are any indication of what it costs for you to have the chilled/heated water option to the other costs you incur to have bottled water delivered to your home, add about five bucks to that.

 

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The Ultimate Wireless Energy: Lightning

LightningI've always heard that West Central Florida was the lightning capital of the world.  Living in the region, one could easily be convinced that is true.  On a warm summer evening, using unassisted, ground based observation only, you would be hard pressed to keep count of the flashes in just a single hour, let alone an entire evening.  Just how much lightning does strike in a region?  Can you determine when it is going to strike in your area?  The answers to these questions are not as easy to come by as you might think.  Both the National Weather Service (NWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have strike maps, data, and even some real time detection networks.  They have funded studies at a number of universities and even some commercial contracts to get the answers to these questions, but it is very difficult to find any real time data for "where I am right now", that is easy to use.  There are plenty of commercial sites if you look long enough, such as local TV stations, and even a handful of regional government funded sites for certain city/county/regions, but nothing on the scale of the commonly available temperature or weather maps that we are accustomed to.   Read on through to the end to find one solution that may trump them all.

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