Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not Easy Being Green

Green is the buzz word for 2008. I think we can all agree those in any modern field of manufacturing and commodities have been pushing “greener” living and consumption. Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Price for his work in the field of awareness. His film, An Inconvenient Truth, also generated two Academy Awards. Although I have yet to see that film from start to finish, and regardless of whether you agree with his point of view or not, it has generated a lot of discussion on the issue of global warming and the responsibility humans have as stewards of the Earth. This is why I was toying with the idea of building a secondary PC for the sole purpose of file transfer.

I have been know to occasionally torrent a few files and have had the need to keep my desktop (or more accurately “deskbottom”) PC on for extended periods of time (30 days and counting now). This puts a lot of strain on the electricity bill, not to mention the increased consumption of natural resources. Even though Calgary’s major power provider is committed to green energy, it is still a wasteful practice that I wanted to reduce. So in researching the actual consumption wattage of my PC, and without using a kill-a-watt type machine, I can say my system idle consumption is between 150-200W. So if my PC is online 24/7 for the last 30 days, I have then used, at worst case scenario:

Wattage x Hours Used Per Day = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption (1 kilowatt (kW) = 1,000 Watts)

200W X 24 = 4800/1000 = 4.8 kWh per day

My current provider is charging approximately $0.10/kWh so that’s costing me $0.48/day to run my computer and over a period of $30 days, that’s $14.40 I am paying for uploading.

My computer system is a fair beast, with 4 fans, 3 hard drives, 8800GT, 4GB of ram, and a CPU that’s overclocked by 40%. Do I need the power to bittorrent? No. So how much can I save by going to a HTPC style of a torrent server? Even at best case scenario, which is like a laptop usage, I would still be consuming around 80W by having a barebones system running instead of my main PC. That’s a savings of $8.64 using the same calculations from above. This amount to a total of $103.38 per year assuming prices per kWh remains the same.

The configured HTPC barebones system will cost at the least, $350 to build/order. That means I have to use this system for the next 3 years in order to break even. I can hear Al Gore saying now, “But think about all that intrinsic value you gain by saving the environment!” I’m sorry Al; I have to save my pocket book first before I can save the environment. Not everyone can be the ex-vice president and be independently wealthy when they retire. So for the moment, I will try and use my PC less, maybe cutting uptime by 25% at first and go from there. It would be interesting to see what it actually works out to be in real dollar savings.

And on a related note, Calgary was just hit with about 5cm of snow. Even the trees are having a hard time going green!

1 comment:

Kevin said...

If you are just wanting to keep torrents running I am using an Asus WL-500G router which is able to run a torrent and it has USB ports to add an external hard drive as well. It would use a lot less electricity than a full PC. Many of the "hackable" routers are able to do this I think. I just chose the Asus as it seemed to most feature filled and was reasonably priced.