The power consumption of a geek

Lately, I’ve been curious about what’s consuming electricity in my flat. My electricity bill just increases as more and more geeky appliances find their way into my home. So yesterday I bought an electricity consumption meter and started measuring. This is what I’ve found out so far.

First up: my server. This blog and my gallery among others reside on my wardrobe server which is powered on 24/7 all year. These are the specs:

  • 800MHz Intel PIII CPU
  • 512M RAM
  • Intel ca810e mother board with integrated Ethernet
  • Promise UltraTX133 hard drive controller
  • Maxtor 6Y160P0 160GB hard drive
  • Quantum Fireball 8,4GB hard drive
  • 200W PSU
  • No monitor connected

I connected the consumption meter to the outlet and the extension cord to which my server and ADSL-modem and WLAN-router is connected to the meter. With the server still turned off, the ADSL-modem and my WLAN-router consumed a total of 15W. When the server was turned on, the meter peaked at 85W, decreasing to around 55-60W when going idle after the start-up procedure. Hence, the server idles on around 40-45W and going up to around 60W when stressed. This was surprisingly low, considering that it consumes about as much as a light bulb being turned on around the clock. Converted into money, this I/O cluster costs me around 60 euros per year with current average electricity prices (Helsingin energia, 0,1216e/kWh).

Continuing then to the media cluster consisting of a Panasonic wide-screen CRT TV, an old Panasonic stereo receiver, a Nintendo Wii, a Shuttle machine (1,3GHz CPU; 1,5GB RAM; 80G HD; GeForce FX 5200 GPU, Terratec Cinergy 1200) and a Lacie 500GB external hard drive, which also is connected to the power outlet. This is a real power-om-nom-nom-park consuming a total of over 200W when not idle. The following table contains rough amount of power consumed by each device in different states.

Device Off Standby On, idle On, stressed
TV 0W 1W
(“red light”)
(using receiver)
Shuttle 6W n/a ~80W ~110W
Lacie 0W
(power cord disconnected)
n/a 9W n/a
Wii 1W
(“red light”)
(“yellow light”)
(start screen)
(power cord disconnected)
(“red light”)
5W n/a

The cells with n/a means that I either haven’t measured that or that it’s not applicable.

The big surprises where were the TV not consuming more than 1W on standby (busting the myth that completely turning off your TV saves you heaps of cash) and the Shuttle consuming 6W even when completely turned off, but still connected to the power outlet.

The major culprit in this cluster is the Shuttle+Lacie combination which is switched on 24/7, consuming a total of nearly 90W around the clock. The normal idle power consumption for the whole cluster (TV on standby, stereo receiver on, Wii on standby, Shuttle and Lacie on) lies around 105W, costing me around 110 euros on a yearly basis. And that’s when idle.

In addition to these machines, there’s three laptops in the flat, two of which are almost constantly switched on (in addition to the normal appliances like the dish washer, the washing machine, the refrigerator/freezer, the stove and all lamps). No wonder that the electricity consumption of this flat lies above the average for an apartment of this size.

Of course it’s easy to save energy by turning off appliances that consume a lot of power. In my case it would be the Shuttle+Lacie, but that would also mean that I can’t instantly turn on the music or schedule a TV-recodring from outside the flat. Convinience does apparently have a price, and in this case it’s nearly 100 euros per year.



Filed under Geek speak, The thing they call Life

4 responses to “The power consumption of a geek

  1. Tomas M

    40W för servern var ju faktiskt förvånansvärt lite! Har själv funderat över hur mycket en sån kan tänkas dra eftersom jag planerar sätta upp egen server i min lägenhet också. Det kostar på att vara nörd:)

  2. I also bought a wattmeter, and like you ran around my house working out how much power everything consumed. It’s an entertaining 20 minutes 🙂

    The thing I learnt the most, apart from the fact my PC setup consumes 300w when running, is that if I add up all the 1w ‘idle’ or ‘standby’ items in the house it totals about 30W.

    That’s 30W just to power a load of sleeping electronics.

    My electricity meter has a flashing red LED that pulses depending on usage, I think a way of monitoring this would be fun.

  3. Johan

    Vad är en Shuttle?

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