I have known for some time that our house is very energy inefficient, or rather, very wasteful. Also, running so many computer systems and support devices and network gear and cooling for those really adds up. Match that with a 30 year old bulletproof Lennox HVAC unit and the fact that I am home all the time and cant really set the temp for away, and you have extremely high energy bills.
Over the recent years I have replaced all light bulbs with CFLs which helps with consumption as well as heat. An average Incandescent bulb draws 60w and it's CFL mate is 13w. So anytime I replace or add lighting or any such endeavor, it is always Fluorescent in nature. I have even converted our security and tree and landscape lighting to fluorescent and I also have not been using most of that as of late in order to curb the scary bill a bit.
So this last week I have been going around the home-office and measuring power consumption on my devices. The workstations werent much of a surprise, but some things were. Did you know that your pc turned off draws around 30va/hr? Multiply that by 24hrs, then by 365days and then by my current power rate and I get $35/yr by just having my one pc plugged in and turned off. That isnt all that much for a year really, but then multiply that by every pc in the house, in my case, alot. Also add in ALL other electronic devices that are slowly draining power. Your vcr that you never use draws 50va turned off. Your gaming console draws 50va turned off. On and on and on. These devices are called vampires as they slowly suck energy which truly adds up over time and more noticeably now that rates are on the rise.
UPS "battery backups" draw a lot of energy just to keep the batteries charged. I have been using two ups's on my server farm knowing that each was lightly loaded. I just measured and found that each unit was drawing 170va with no load. That means that having dual ups's connected has been costing me $1.06 each day just for the privilege.
I have had six dell data center servers racked and plugged in but only 2 in use. The other four have been sitting there turned off waiting for my next project. I only now realized that each server sitting there has been slowly sucking 30va. So I have been wasting around 3kw per day or .40 by having unused servers plugged in.
I have since unplugged things not in use. I migrated all stuff to one UPS. I have made everyone in the house set their desktops to go to standby after 20 min. I have made my internal file server shut the hd's down after 20 min of no use.
I believe that I have at least saved 8kw per day and it took no effort to do, just effort to realize. I am going to attack the general house next. Gaming consoles and other unused devices are going to be unplugged and/or put onto mechanical switches. My large electronic piano that I use maybe once a week is going to be unplugged. Unplugging saves power and also keeps devices from being blown up if there is ever a power surge or lightning strike.
I spent this morning up in the attic working on our air conditioner. Turns out that our plenum was leaking rather badly so we were essentially cooling the attic and not recovering that cool air so the system works harder and cools less. I ripped off all the old dried and dead duct tape, reworked the plenum a bit and then sealed with wide foil tape like it should have been done. I also cleaned the coil and inspected the entire system upstairs like a good geek would do. I wrapped the naked plenum and coil housing in two layers of reflective blanket so all of that should absorb less heat. I have stopped the waterfall of AC to the attic so that should save some kilowatts per day or at least make me more comfy inside.
If I ever build a house, I am making sure there is a facilities closet in the center of it where a vertical HVAC system and the water heater, plumbing and other stuff will reside. It is unbearable working in a hot narrow floorless attic, peered between two beams trying not to fall through the ceiling. It's also just a dumb idea to put anything at all that needs servicing into the attic. Instead, there should be 16" of insulation covering all things and you never ever go up there. I wish we had basements here in Texas.
I am heavily considering having a radiant barrier sprayed onto the bottom of the rooftop decking to keep the attic cooler. When it is 108F outside, the rooftop can easily become 160F+ and the attic can easily become 140F+. That heat transfers to your AC system and through your roof. A radiant barrier will bounce some of that heat back out and can cool the attic by 20 degrees or more. Some updated insulation can also slow heat gain, and we need it all here, badly.
Then finally, I am looking into replacement HVAC systems. The new systems have some very nice features which is about time. Dual stage condensers, variable speed blower fans, humidity sensors, air flow and duct air temp sensors... I am even considering somewhat of an electronically zoned system in order to cool differing areas of the house differently. A heat pump may also be in order for us since Texas has light winters and I hardly ever use the heat then anyway. A cold 60F house beats the heck out of a humid 80F+ house anyday. I like to enjoy our winters since they are so short...