Power tips: Reader's suggestions for coping with Calif. energy crisis

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Power tips: Chronicle readers' suggestions for coping with California's energy crisis

Thursday, May 24, 2001, 2001 San Francisco Chronicle

URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/05/24/MN59652.DTL&type=news

I live in Sacramento, where we do use air-conditioning in the summer. I covered two skylights with aluminum foil to keep the heat out. Two east- facing windows have exterior roll-up blinds. . . . I adjusted my pool pump from six hours per day to two hours from 6 to 8 a.m. This saves electricity and puts the usage in the morning, which is not the peak usage. I keep my computer power strip and music/VCR power strip switched off. This alone saves about one kilowatt hour per day. I replaced four of my most used lights with fluorescent bulbs. You really don't need to change all of your bulbs, just the ones that are on for several hours per day. So far, I've cut about one-third of my usage, with very little lifestyle change.

Martin R. Fraser, Sacramento

Household air conditioners are energy guzzlers. Consider, instead, the merits of an evaporative cooler (a.k.a. swamp cooler), ideal in low-humidity locales such as California. They consume only about 25 percent of what it would take to operate an air conditioner.

Martha Kimmich, Walnut Creek

The suggestion that a frost-free refrigerator's compressor will run less if ice cubes are put in Tupperware because it won't waste energy trying to "defrost" trays of ice cubes is pure nonsense. The duration of the defrost cycle is controlled by a timer, which turns on a heater for a fixed duration of time daily. Putting ice in Tupperware will, in fact, prevent the cubes from "evaporating" (technically - sublimating) as they do when left in their trays for long periods, and as such is a good idea - but not because the compressor will run less.

Jack Petit

The five major league baseball teams in California need to move to a day- only schedule for the rest of the year. That will also mean no Monday night games for the NFL teams this fall or winter. . . . No more private and public tennis clubs leaving their lights on their courts late into the night. . . . Attempt to combine or limit the venues in which public meetings are held. Often these halls are overly well-lighted, with only a few citizens attending. Reduce hours amusement parks are opened, and reduce the amount of lighting in underused areas. Limit the hours movie theaters are open. The matinees are sparsely attended, but use a lot of power to light and cool the theater.

Hugh Cavanaugh

When is San Francisco going to catch up with the rest of America and begin to install high-density sodium vapor lamps (the "yellow light") in place of all of its outside public lighting? They use one-third the energy of "white light" and put out three times the light. Also, if the state would give building owners a tax incentive to install "motion sensor"-controlled lighting systems, all these empty office buildings' lights could safely be shut off at night when these large buildings are empty.

Rollin W. Roberts

Require that all businesses keep their doors shut when open for business. One day recently on upper Market Street when it was 55 degrees and windy, I took a tally and 60 percent of the businesses had their doors open.

Bill Choisser, San Francisco

After your dishwasher has completed the wash cycle, open the door, pull out the racks and there will be a big whoosh of steam. The hot temperature of the dishes and glasses themselves (from the wash cycle) creates instant evaporation. In a minute your dishes are dry and cool. The only reason for a drying cycle is because they're enclosed.

Dan Lucas

(One reader) wrote she turns off all her large appliances, including TV/VCR, at the breaker box, when not in use. These appliances do not use power when the switches are off, except maybe a clock. Most circuit breakers are not rated for switching purposes. They are for over-current protection only. Over time you will damage them with continual on/off switching.

Tom DeMerritt

Send your comments and suggestions to Energy Desk, San Francisco Chronicle, 901 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103; or send e-mail to energysaver@sfchronicle.com.

2001 San Francisco Chronicle Page A - 17

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), May 24, 2001

Answers

The last comment is not correct. Appliances that stay on, even when turned off, can be found at many places in your home.

Examples are tv's, stereos, anything that you can turn on with a remote or a momentary push button switch (ie your pc). All draw a few watts when turned off. Other examples are wall transformers, GFI's, AC powered smoke detectors, anything with a clock in it, such as your microwave, range, clock radios, outlet deoderizers, etc. You can turn them off completely only by using a wall switch, power bar switch, or yanking the plug. Here is a good article that talks about these phantom loads. Although written with solar in mind, it still applies to the regular AC in your home.

http://www.homepower.com/bonus.htm

John

-- John (j@NotReal.ca), May 24, 2001.


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