Current Cost and a Standby Saver
Sometimes I come over all hippified and environmental (also I like saving money because I'm a capitalist pig) so I thought I'd blog a couple of products I have recently found and used to get our electricity bill down a bit.
The first recent purchase was a Current Cost
energy meter, this is a device that clips a probe around your incoming power supply near the meter and wirelessly transmits the data to a basestation that reports your current power usage, estimated cost, how many units used in the past day/week/month. It cost me a total of about £33 including delivery+vat so hopefully will create some savings for us, if not it's a nice little geeky toy anyway.
The Current Cost has an rj45 socket on the bottom of it, the device itself doesn't speak ethernet but it will allow you to do serial connections if you build a cable with the right magic. Anyhow, if you do build a serial cable (that I've not built for myself yet) it will dump a bit of xml every 6 seconds via the serial port to allow you to take this information and do with it what you will, make funkeh graphs etc. a bit of search engine magic will take you to the blogs of the people who have been working with this so far and made some nice progress. Hopefully I will get a chance to make the cable in the next week or so and do something that is more useful for me that involves reading the electricity meter for me.
Anyhow, as a side effect of getting this I did a bit more digging on devices to save electricity, and came across the Standby Saver
, which was on the bbc tv show Dragons Den
some time ago. They make 2 versions of this device, one for computers and one for a/v equipment. The idea is pretty simple, with the computer version it senses power is applied via the usb connection to your computer and when power goes away it will power off all the devices plugged into the strip so you don't use any standby power. When you want to start them up again you push a convenient button that enables power to the entire power strip. The AV version is similar but uses an infra red sensor to detect when you tell your television or whichever remote control button you want to power on/off all of your gear.
So because of my recent drive to saving a few penguins and polar bears and some dosh I worked out that the 2 desktop computers upstairs which are only used infrequently use quite a large amount of power while powered off (standby on ATX machines is in software rather than hardware) and when you consider the added draw of the kvm etc. it really isn't insignificant. I was burning around 50W per hour for 2 machines to be physically powered off. This equates to an electricity cost of something around £36 a year just to leave the machines powered off.
Anyhow, the Standby Savers cost £20 each with a small shipping cost, so I purchased a Standby Saver for the computers and another for the A/V equipment yesterday and they arrived today. The device itself looks nice and reasonably well made. A few bits of green plastic here and there some green leds so it all looks environmentally friendly, although the shiny labels on them were peeling off in the box which looked a bit tacky.
So, I plug in the version for the computers and get what is initially a great disappointment, when the computer powered off the power strip stayed powered. After a few minutes of fiddling I realised the problem. The Asus p5k-e motherboard in my new computer keeps the usb ports powered up when the machine is off! Argh! disaster! It won't be able to work with my hardware.
After a bit of ranting and swearing and trying to find a way to stop this utterly stupid behaviour of the Asus motherboard in the bios I realise that this is in vain or that I'm crap working out which bios option means what. It seems that I'm stuck with a new device to try and save me money that isn't going to work.
I give it a few more minutes of brain storming and I'm up with an idea. In my old desktop I had to add a pci usb port card as I needed some more usb ports, I found this old card in the cupboard and stuff it into my current machine, a few minutes later I have the machine working *perfectly* with the standby saver as when you power off the desktop it powers off the pci card too. A swift pat on the back from myself to myself later and I go to have a nice cup of tea.
I still have to setup the Standby Saver for the AV equipment, that uses an infra-red sensor instead of the usb cable and button. Hopefully It won't be so much of a problem but I have already noted that the power lead is pretty short and isn't long enough for where I want to put it which is a disappointment but I can probably work around that.