Keep asking, Max...keep asking.
The Winning Project
(This project was my jury's choice for 'best concept, best feasibility, best fit' for my 2009 Real Estate Development class at Kent Architecture.)
Don't Turn It Off--Kill It
All of our homes are full of electronic devices that use power when off. Estimates of so-called 'standby' or 'vampire' power use range from 10-15% of a household's total annual consumption. These devices sit there, waiting to be used, waiting for the remote control to activate them, telling us the time (do we need that many clocks?), their little red/orange standby lights glowing, waiting to jump into action.
I decided that I didn't like all those lights and clocks staring at me anymore, so I installed a 'kill-switch' on our family's living room entertainment center. Actually, what initially prompted me to do this was the surprising amount of heat I noticed when opening the doors of the armoire that contained all of our (supposedly 'off') devices: LCD TV, PS3, PS2, Wii, A/V Receiver, DVR. To accomplish the task, I simply mounted a surge protector on the back of the armoire, hidden from view but in an easily-adult/kid-accessible location, and plugged all the devices into it. Switching the surge protector off puts the devices into a true zero power consumption state--no glowing lights. (Detail: I did not connect the DVR to the kill-switch--otherwise it wouldn't be able to grab the shows it was programmed to auto-record.)
I've tracked our power consumption since installing the kill-switch in mid-September. Compared to the same 3-month (Oct-Dec) period last year, we're using 27% less electricity. That's amazing. Certainly a large portion (but not all) of this savings is attributable to the kill-switch. The remainder of the savings, I believe, simply comes from the fact that we're all paying more attention to our power use in general--turning off lights more quickly, etc. This behavior of course is a direct result of the installation of the kill-switch. It reinforces something I've learned over the years: The mere act of paying attention to something often leads to improvement of that thing.
Previously: Generating less trash.
Strange Hybrid Creatures
I love Esmé's cute (but slightly disturbing) Bunny-Bug.