Saving Power?

Over the holidays we brought a new TV and I thought I’d best check the power consumption since saving power was part of the justification for the purchase. The old TV was a 3rd generation Plasma (from 2005) and the new one is LCD LED so it will use less power, right?

I’ve already posted about the smart power board we purchased in No more vampire devices but what if the TV was better then the standby power used by the power board? Why would I think this could be possible, well since we swapped TVs around I have had to manually activate the power board as the IR sensor is still attached to the old TV. Each time I’ve noticed that the power board is warm, this means that it is consuming a significant amount of power. Time to attach the power meter!

So what were the result?

The power board, old TV, Wii, and PS3 in standby consumed 7 Watts
The power board, new TV, Wii, and PS3 in standby consumed 4.5 Watts

I measured the new TV by itself, it didn’t even register a reading! That means that my based on my power meter it consumes less than a milliwatt!

What about the smart power board? It measured 2 Watts! So now I’ve just unplugged the Wii (2 Watts) and replaced the smart powerboard with a plain old normal power board and now the standby power is 0.5 Watts. A saving of 6.5 Watts in standby!

Oh and the TV also uses about half the power when it it turned on as well but it does have a 7 star rating!

Over half a megawatt!

Our little solar panels have harvested over 500kW/h of sunlight!

The solar meter was installed in December and is a Landis+Gyr EM1200. Details can be found at

The full list of display codes was a little hard to track down but here it is for anyone else looking for the information.

[table id=2 /]

Still waiting for our first full power bill to see how much difference the grid connected solar system has made to our household.

Even the kitchen sink

The next place that needed the water saving touch was the kitchen. The old tap was 15+ years old and was one of those nasty cheap ones that leaks, bends, paint chips off, just junk really.

It was time for a upgrade and we wanted a mixer tap. However since the old tap was one of the 3 piece systems we needed some stainless blanking plugs to cover the extra holes, Bunnings to the rescue again!

We got the actual tap from a plumbing supply store as they had a better range and we finally selected the Adelphi mixer made by Dorf.

The new kitchen tap

The tap is installed and we think it looks really good (that isn’t our sink in the photo above). Hopefully combined with our water tank we will see a difference in our water usage.

Cutting grime, cutting time, savings dollars

One of the next steps in changing our house over to using less energy and less water was the purchase of a new washing machine.
We considered several factors and not only wanted to get one that used less water and power but also one that was built to last.
The power consumption can be assessed by using the following government website –
The water consumption can be assessed by using the following government website –

Assessing how long they will last was a bit harder, we decided to stick with one of the well known European brands Miele.

We got a combo washer/dryer – front loader washer and condensing dryer

Miele WT 2670

We also wanted a model with a delay start timer since now the we have our solar panels the new meter is measuring usage at time of day so it is less expensive to run the machine between 11pm and 7am. Combined with our tank water we should be reducing our impact on the world every day. The old machine didn’t end up in land fill either, we found it a new home with a friend that was moving house and was looking for a second hand washing machine.

No more vampire devices

We’ve finally found a power board that does what we want!

The Smart Home Theatre Power Saver power board from Mort Bay. We found ours at Bunnings

It comes with an infra-red sensor that learns the “off” command from your remote. It then waits 60 seconds and if the power consumption of the devices connected is low it then turns them off at the power board. It also has 1 outlet that is always left on which we use for our PVR.

It is nice to hear the little “click” and see all the red and green stand-by lights turn off.

You are my sunshine

After reading many horror stories on the Whirlpool forums we finally settled on a 1.5kW grid connected solar system from Origin.

Interest free and big name were main deciding factors for us. Downer EDI did the install and the guys were really professional and happily answered our numerous questions. Like many people we were offered an AreoSharp inverter because of supply issues with the Sharp model but we declined and had to wait an additional 2 months for the install.

We have:

The panels are installed on the north side of our house and actual look pretty good when seen from the street.

solar panels on house
The panels installed on my roof

I still have my old meter which happily spins backwards during the day and over the last couple of weeks we have produced much more power than we have used. The new “solar” meter will be installed in about a month. On a sunny day the display on the inverter usually shows between 1200W and 1400W.

Inverter installed
The inverter installed and operational

So now we can run the pump for my water tanks without any worry about CO2 or cost 🙂

Plus we can use the tank water to keep them clean and operating at full efficiency.

In the first 3 weeks we’ve generated over 150kWh!

Got Water…?

We are growing some of our own food but we still need to keep it alive over summer and also keep the some of the extra rain water for use around the house to further reduce our impact on the world.

We were lucky enough to be included in a study into storm water management and recieved funding towards the installation in addition to the state and federal government rebates. More information about the study can be found at

We have a 5000 L tank connected to all the downpipes on our house. This is achieved by using a “wet system” where all the downpipe are connected together under the house and then taken into the tank. You can see an explanation of this style of system at

The tank is connected to two toilets, the washing machine, and a garden tap to keep our vegies growing. We still use town water for drinking but we have room to add extra storage, filtration, and treatment if we want to add this option. The rain fall and usage model predicts that our little tank will overflow on about 35 days in the year. This excess water is treated and filtered naturally in an infiltration trench for storm water management.

The installation was done by

Tanks and Pump
Tanks and pump

Own your grow

For the second year our little vegie garden is growing our summer food. Winter was not that great but we did get some garlic growing along with some celery and parsley. The garlic is in the small bed on the right hand side.

Now we have bok choy, spinach, and broccoli in the main bed and herbs and strawberries in the pots in front. There are still some celery and parsley from winter and room for some other vegies once we decide what we want to grow.

The Vegie Garden

The fence is to keep the dog out. 🙂

We are thinking about adding a second bed to see if we can grow even more of our own vegies but we need to ensure that we don’t grow more then we can eat or store for later. Last year we grew more basil than we could ever use, we still have jars of it dried that look like they will last years however we did use up the pesto we made.

Compost, manure, blood & bone, seaweed, sugar cane mulch, and tank water keep everything growing.

The Gardening Australia website has a helpful planting guide

A book that has been great is The Kitchen Garden Companion: Dig, Plant, Water, Grow, Harvest, Chop, Cook by Stephanie Alexander

The Kitchen Garden Companion: Dig, Plant, Water, Grow, Harvest, Chop, Cook

No Mac Mini

Although it was rumored that Apple would release a new Mac Mini (and an iPhone Nano) when I got up this morning and checked Engadget all I go was a 17" Mac Book.

Where is the new Mac Mini!!! Think they might put a Dual Core Atom in it? A SSD? Have it all run on 20 Watts of power. Green computing at it’s best. They better hurry up or I’ll have to build my own, Intel make a nice motherboard with the 330 onboard.