How energy efficient is your daily life?

By Valentina Stampi-Bombelli

Have you ever stopped to think about the power consumption of the activities of your daily life?

Would you know now, on the spot, whether a washing machine consumes more than a dryer, or vice-versa? Do you know in what order of magnitude their power consumption is? I know that I wouldn’t.

In this household, where a family has gathered at home, there are some of the typical electronic devices that we use our day-to-day lives.

From our phone chargers to the electric stove, from the ceiling fan to a laptop computer, do you think you can guess the power consumption of each device?

Let’s play a game: below, the house is divided into floors. Above each room is the power consumption, in Watts, corresponding to the indicated devices that run on electricity. Try guessing the power consumption of each device, and then have fun scrolling to the right of each room below to find out if you guessed correctly! Let’s start with the attic.

Attic

Which item do you think requires the highest power? Scroll to the right and find out!

Did you guess correctly? Were you expecting the electrical water heater to have such a high power consumption? This really makes you think about how crucial it is to turn down the heaters when you are away!

Study

Gym

Laundry Room

Bathroom

Bedroom

Kitchen

Living Room

So, how did it go? Were you surprised about the power that all these devices consume? Comment below!

From air drying our clothes to air drying our hair, from choosing the best light bulb to turning our heaters down when we are away, even in the comfort of our household, there are so many things we can do to decrease the energy consumption of our daily lives. Challenge yourself!

Keep up with the Energy Blog @ ETH Zurich on Twitter @eth_energy_blog.

Suggested citation: Stampi-Bombelli, Valentina. “How energy efficient is your daily life?”, Energy Blog @ ETH Zurich, ETH Zurich, January 20, 2020, https://blogs.ethz.ch/energy/energy-efficient-life/

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12 comments

  • Valerio

    Very interesting! I didn’t know that at all!

  • Federico Milela

    Nice initiative! I also suggest to read the book Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air by David JC MacKay. He did a similar thing in his house in GB.

  • Tobi Schmidt

    Thanks for a fun blog post! Besides power, the energy consumed would be at least as interesting. Yes, your hair dryer has high power but you only use it a few minutes per day (or per year in my case). You wanna add this data?

    • Valentina Stampi-Bombelli

      I completely agree with you! For a while I was undecided whether to talk about power or energy consumption, but talking about energy consumption highly depends on your lifestyle (from something small like how often you use your hair dryer to things with higher impact like how you manage heating and laundry), so I wanted to leave it as generic as possible. However, for a next blog post, I could definitely think of including data on the average use of each appliance and see how the energy consumption is actually distributed between them. Thanks for the comment!

      • George

        This is a cool blog post and I really enjoyed the way the illustrations communicate the post’s message.

        However, I completely agree with Tobi on his point and I am afraid that the post’s title might be slightly misleading, as it seems to connect energy efficiency with appliance wattage. This might in turn confuse some people to think that getting rid of their hair dryer is the best option they have, for instance.

        Additionally, to assign the appliances in each room, you probably also had to consider some “average” appliance ownership. Thus, if you also assumed some “average” occupant behavior with regards to their usage to calculate their energy consumption, it would not introduce any error to your results.

        Looking forward to your next post.

  • Florian Egli

    Awesome, thanks for the insights and the beautiful illustrations!

  • Martin Holzherr

    For climate aware people, the same puzzle could be given in regard to the CO2 emissions per device for someone living in Zurich and someone living in Berlin.

    And yes, I belong to the people believing, that the climate and greenhouse problem will get more and more important in this century.

  • Martin Holzherr

    Many Swiss municipalities call themselves ENERGY CITIES. But in the 21st century, the challenge is not energy efficiency, but freedom from emissions. Emission-free cities are mandatory, energy-efficient cities are optional.

  • Stephen Claus

    I think it is really important to know the amount of energy we are using in our houses, that way, we can track the things that should be used less to save not just money but the environment.This are is very informative.

  • Felix Zaussinger

    Just discovered this today, great stuff! Agree with what Tobias and George said, but also understand your answer (: Would it be possible to, instead of only averaging over appliance usage behavior, also illustrate other quantiles? I don’t know how such data are usually distributed, and appliance specific energy consumption probably varies a great deal contingent on region, affluence, demographics, social norms, culture, etc. I think it could be quite interesting and worthwhile to flesh this out a bit more. Otherwise, as George rightly pointed out, the “behavioral changes” your illustrations might imply to be most effective can run into the risk of misleading some readers. In any case, I find the idea very creative and the illustrations mind-blowing, many thanks for sharing this content.

    • Valentina Stampi-Bombelli

      Thanks for the great feedback! I actually understand your points as well, and I find them very valuable. I’m still considering writing another post including specific energy consumptions rather than power; it would definitely reduce the risk in misleading readers into changing their behaviors in the wrong direction. And as you said, showing the differences between regions and cultures would be extremely interesting, I’m rather curious myself! Thanks again for the feedback and I’ll let the artist know that you appreciate her illustrations 😀

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