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electricity is invisible but it doesn’t have to be

Practical UFO: Water Fountain

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This is the first of a series of blogs showing practical uses of the UFO Powerstrip and how it saves electricity. As UFO Powerstrips become available and are being used for field testing, we will be able to report more practical examples. These blogs will show how counterintuitive sometimes electricity usage is.

Like most offices, we have an electric water fountain. Its power rating – like most electrical appliances – is not clear. We have used a UFO for a few weeks in our office kitchen and tried different arrangements. The water fountain is effectively a refrigerator and during this test we have not used it to pour hot water. Unlike home refrigerators, the water fountain does not have a way to adjust its temperature, leading to big wastes of energy.

When used without any restrictions, the water fountain uses per day in excess of 1.6 KWhr. That is just leaving it on all the time. We have experimented using the timer feature of the UFO Powerstrip and at first reduced it daily energy consumption to about 1 KWhr just by turning it off during the night. We then tried to be a little more clever and noticed that the water was at a cold enough temperature after turning it off for half an hour. We tried then to cycle on and off the water fountain every half hour. Interestingly, although the perception was the water was pretty cold, the refrigerator inside the fountain was still using about 70 W per hour in average, basically the same amount of energy used by keeping the water fountain on all the time.

What it really made a difference was to cycle the water fountain on and off every hour. We could still not perceive the difference but this way, we reduced the daily energy consumption to less than 0.5 KWhr.

In conclusion, we managed energy consumption of a very dumb office water fountain and reduced its daily electricity usage from 1.6 KWhr to less than 0.5 KWhr without any reducing its effectiveness.

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Written by Marco G.

January 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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