Low Power Computing and Home Networking Philosophy

As my electric bill keeps going up I have been trying to cut down on usage. After getting rid of unnecessary things, buying a smaller frig, I found my two biggest users of electricity were my hot water heater and my computer. There are ways to save money on the hot water heater but replacing a single desktop pc with a few lower power devices can knock $10 to $20 off your electric bill.

My computer is a 2.7 ghz amd dual core with 3 gigs ddr2 ram and a 1 tb 7200 spin hard drive. I calculated it out to 203 watts idle with a online calculator. Online calculator are not precise but they are are usually good enough. It is a pretty average desktop pc. It is not surprising that it is around 200 watts when idle. Newer desktop computers idle lower, but still usually more than 100 watts without going to sleep.

Electricity is sold in kilowatts, so my computer is 0.203 kilowatts. The national average per kilowatt hour is $0.10. Mine is $0.097

If we take .203 kilowatts x 24 hours x 30 days x $0.10 kilowatt hour = $14.67 per month if the computer runs all the time. If you have a graphics card, more memory, or more hard drives, the price goes up quickly. A system with 2 graphics and 8 or more gigs of ram can easily idle at 500 watts. A 500 watt system would be $36 dollars a month.

I want my hard drive available 24/7 so I can access my media from my network. So my pc pretty well has to stay on 24/7. One way I found to eliminate this was to have a separate server for my hard drive so that it is accessible when my computer is off.

This is where Network Attached Storage (NAS) comes in. By attaching the hard drive to the router or modem, it becomes available to the entire network on demand. It also becomes a media server and back up drive for all your devices . So there is no need to have a hard drive in any device unless you will be playing large games or running apps like photoshop. There are many NAS servers out there. I was specifically looking for low power like an external hard drive, not ones that have a power supply in them like a computer. The two most available are the Seagate Personal Cloud and the WD My cloud. They are both about $30 or $40 above the price of the same size external hard drive. I went with the Seagate because I liked the web interface better than the WD My Cloud. It is really just preference though. They are both about 15 watts when idle or $1.08/month in electricity.

Another reason I leave my computer on is to watch netflix, read the internet, or listen to a radio station. There are many devices that can work for that. Android TV boxes range from $40 to $200. I was looking for windows like my pc. I bought the Intel Compute Stick. It runs about $129. It is a quadcore intel atom with 2 gb of ram and 32gb internal storage. It plugs in to an hdmi port on your tv and turns it into windows 10 pc. It streams great. It will play Minecraft but not Call of Duty. It is more than enough for just watching netflix, cruising the web, or office work. It uses a lowly 2.5 watts of electricity when idle or $0.18/month.

So with both of them that’s 17.5 watts or $1.22/month. So $14.67 minus $1.22 is $13.45 dollars per month in savings or $161/year. Add in my roku for 5 watts or $0.36 cents. That brings my total cost for month to leave my electronics on 24/7 $1.58.

I still also have my pc that I can turn on any time to play games or run photoshop.

Considering the cost of the Intel Compute Stick ($129), the Seagate Personal Cloud ($135), and an extra $50 for things like keyboards, mice, sd cards. That would be $314. At a savings of $161 per year, the system would pay for itself in 23 months, or just under 2 years.

Besides the electricity saving, My media is completely accessible anywhere in the world. Not only are my devices backed up, but i can automatically back up my facebook, wordpress, and google plus posts. It is easy and cheap to add another device. I can share my media with anyone’s phone or tablet when the come over. They can cast videos straight to my tv


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