I consider myself to be relatively tech savvy. I’ve worked in the consumer technology space for over 20 years and can “talk the talk” with the best of them. I have spent lots of money at New Egg and Amazon, picking out the latest hardware for the family – all in the name of making our lives easier and more fun. I did lots of comparative shopping between brands of TVs, appliances and such, thinking carefully about the cost of each item and how much benefit we would get out of it. I typically looked at the “features” of a product and rarely gave a thought about how much it costs to run. Sure, I looked at the energy star rating on big appliances, but that was about it.
All that has changed, thanks to CURB.
CURB was installed in my home a few days ago and I have had fun turning on and off lights to get a feeling for how much things cost to operate. For example, I now know that the tower fan by my bed costs me 2 cents an hour to run. I like using that fan at night. I stay cool and my husband doesn’t freeze from the overhead ceiling fan, AKA the Harrier Jet, blowing on him all night long. (FYI, the Harrier Jet costs about 1 cent an hour to run). So, is it worth it for me to spend an extra $2.50 a month to run the tower fan vs the overhead to keep peace in my marriage? You bet it is!
Recently, we took a trip to see my in-laws and fell in love with their electric tea kettle. It not only heated up enough water to make 5 cups of tea in under 3 minutes, but it also switched itself on over the course of an hour to keep the water hot! My husband and I both commented on how much we loved that feature and vowed to replace our old one. What a convenience! This morning, as my family was using our “old” electric kettle to prep the water for our tea, I took a glance at my CURB dashboard. That kettle was using 22 cents an hour to run! HOLY COW! I was shocked, especially in comparison to the small cost items I had been focused on.
Twenty-two cents an hour may not sound like much, but let’s do the math. My current kettle runs 3 minutes at 22 cents an hour. That means it costs me around 1 cent each time we run it. We heat the water up as much as 5 times a day, so I probably use 5 cents a day/$1.50 a month to use that kettle. I spend more then that on one teabag at my local coffee shop. But now, lets do the math on the kettle we were coveting just two weeks ago. Assuming it reheats itself every ten minutes for one minute, it probably uses an extra 5 minutes of power each time I use it. Using it 5x a day at 8 minutes a pop could cost me $.40 a day/$12 a month! I would be paying 8x more a day just for the convenience of not having to wait around for the kettle to reheat the next time.
So there you go, I just got my first energy education lesson from CURB. I am no longer going to think only about the “conveniences” of a piece of consumer technology when I make a purchase. I need to weigh the conveniences of these purchases against the cost to use them. In some cases, such as my bedside fan, it is worth the cost. But for items like my in-law’s kettle, I think I will go ahead and find something to do in the kitchen while I wait three minutes for my cup of hot tea.