Posts from "June 2012"


British households spend $126/year on electricity for laundry

  • By Barry Fischer
  • June 27, 2012

A new analysis by the British government has revealed a number of interesting patterns about household electricity consumption in the UK.

Among other things, the report indicates that British households “love to keep [their] clothes clean” (running an average of 5.5 washes per week). Along these lines, the average British household spends £81 ($126 US) on electricity to wash and tumble-dry their clothes.

I got curious how US households compare. It turns out that we actually do more laundry than Brits (5.8 washes per week). But because residential electricity costs half as much in the US as the UK (11.8 US cents versus 22.5 US cents), an American family’s washing-related energy bill is likely to be lower.

(Wherever you live, consider washing your clothes in cold or warm (rather than hot) water. It will cut your clothes-washer’s energy bill by 50-90% and your clothes will be just as clean.)

For many other interesting findings, as well as inputs for additional cross-country comparisons, check out the full 15-page UK report, “Powering the Nation: Household electricity-using habits revealed.”

(Today’s exchange rate: £1 = US $1.55)

Read More

Should we charge Mac users to read this blog?

  • By Barry Fischer
  • June 26, 2012

The Wall Street Journal reported today that the travel site Orbitz has found Mac users are bigger spenders when it comes to booking travel.

In particular, Mac users (relative to PC users) spend on average $20-30 more per hotel night and are 40% more likely to book a 4-star or 5-star hotel. Orbitz is now using this insight to market more expensive travel options to Mac users.

The big behavioral/demographic difference between Mac and PC users made us curious about the breakdown of visitors to the Opower blog in its first two weeks since launch. We found that 48% of our visitors have come from Windows operating systems and 33% from Mac systems–with most of the remaining visits coming from mobile devices.

While Windows users account for the highest absolute number of visits to our blog, Mac users are significantly over-represented as a group, in light of the fact that they only represent 8% of all web traffic.

So it appears we’re attracting a lot of Mac users. If they’re willing to pay $20-30 more per hotel night than a PC user, I wonder if they’d be willing to pay to read our blog!

Just kidding…the Opower blog will remain free to all.

Read More

Cost of charging your iPad for a year: $1.36

  • By Barry Fischer
  • June 22, 2012

Charging your iPad every other day requires less than 12 kilowatt-hours per year (costing a mere $1.36 in total), according to a new analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

To date, 67 million iPads have been purchased worldwide. EPRI suggests that if the number of iPads tripled over the next two years, the energy required would be equivalent to the output of one medium-sized power plant operating at full capacity.

Perhaps even more surprising: charging the Apple iPhone 3G consumes just 2.2 kWh of electricity each year, adding $0.25 to your annual electricity bill.

For further perspective on how gadgets and electronics have affected home energy consumption over the past few decades, check out this report from the US Energy Information Administration.

Read More
Older Posts