Affecting End User Behavior to Achieve Efficiency

This is one of a series of 11 videos in the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center's "Roots of Energy Efficiency" series of forums exploring California's rich past - and promising future - as a global innovator of energy-efficient technologies and policies. Examine how consumer behavior is changing in response to new products and services enabled by smart technologies and what additional measures are needed.

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Comment by Bob Blanchette on June 2, 2012 at 9:00pm

So we can call the fridge timer "myth busted" ?

How about the LED bulb? For the few seconds it's on would it save enough energy over an Edison to have any type of reasonable payback time?

Comment by Joseph Lamy on June 2, 2012 at 7:03pm

Tedkidd gets an A for accuracy. The functioning of the fridge is very much like that of a house in summer - maintaining a comfort zone. The water heater is a different animal as i pointed out. The biggest expense I face as a single guy is the standby loss. So i eliminate it almost entirely by doing an 'as-needed' heating scheme on the water heating part of life. This is tough with a family of 4. It sits there most of the time doing nothing but slowly losing heat on the to ambient. But when I need to shower or wash dishes, then I flick the breaker on for short time and and flick it off before I use any hot water. This way I am not RE-heating anything that is just going to sit there and cool.. I'll do the washing and the tank can reach equilibrium, approach ambient on its own and NOT constantly reheat to waste my money and run up the bill.

The fridge is a different beast. We need the steady temp, so, as Tedd points out, the practice of shutting it off only delays briefly the needed heat extraction so later when the power is back, the unit will run slightly longer to lower the temp. There may be a tiny savings, but nothing like the standby losses of a water heater in a single guy's household.

If anyone is interested in a little quickie of an article about LED lights, I scratched this one out a while back...

Comment by tedkidd on June 2, 2012 at 5:17pm
Bob, like how you are thinking.

Dennis, you may not like this. I think putting a timer on your fridge, unless you have tou rates, seems to be the same assumption about saving energy that many have: "I don't want my equipment to run."

Unfortunately this perspective is backwards. I'm hoping to come up with a way to effectively express this. Maybe coming up with good questions is the answer...

When it's 5f outside and your equipment is off, has the house stopped losing energy?

No. We dont heat up our homes, we heat them. More accurately, we replace heat lost. Same holds true for your fridge. Losses don't stop when the fridge is off or unplugged. That fridge runs to remove heat gain. Unplugging doesnt stop heat gain. Unplugging simply shifts energy replacement.

Now you may have small gains from more efficient operation due to long run cycles (eer bump), but soon equipment will load match and run continuously, and shutting off will COST because recovery means throttling UP. (Does pushing gas pedal down run your car more efficiently?).

In fact, the most surprising savings and comfort improvements I've seen come from installing much smaller, modulating communicating equipment that has the ability and design to not shut off.

I think these concepts are really important for us to understand and disseminate.
Comment by Bob Blanchette on June 2, 2012 at 11:30am

I wanted to know so I decided to "do the math". A typical modern fridge uses about 600KWH/yr, or about 50KWH/mo. Shutting it off for 2hrs per day would save about 8% or 4KWH per month, provided the compressor didn't run extra to cool the fridge down once power was restored. 4KWH @ a national average of 10 cents per KWH would be about a 40 cents per month savings. A 3 prong 110V timer costs about $20, potential 4 year payback period provided the compressor doesn't run extra when power is restored. Most newer (2008+) fridges use a motherboard to control all the functions including compressor and defrost operation, no telling what effect cutting power for 2hrs per night does to the timing logarithms on the board. It would be interesting to see actual KWH readings both ways...

Comment by Dennis McCarthy on June 2, 2012 at 10:18am


 Sorry  but my agenda had a limited time for early Am chat - I'm off to go

collect roadside rubbish( I do it voluntarily most Sat mornings) that has

more appeal than doing the math.- With all appliances their are ways

to shave energy use  like under setting oven temps or the fridge timer

thing - its like coasting on a bike sometimes you (or a machine) CAN just coast - I

could'nt - would'nt be able to do the exact math (esp in the early AM )

the idea is that the due diligence reaps rewards - It's time to push away

from my computer and go out and improve my town!!!

Comment by Bob Blanchette on June 2, 2012 at 10:06am

How many KWH per month does it save to put the fridge on a timer from 2-4am? How many KWH per month does the LED light save? I was thinking of doing a timer somewhere between 2-7pm since that's when peak power rates are in effect, but am concerned about payback time on the timer.

Comment by Dennis McCarthy on June 2, 2012 at 9:50am


 The fridge is off 2- 4 AM and the interior light is a old A-19 40 watt equivalant

Borealis lamp It uses 4.2 watts - As for the meter as use a killa watt Pro

Its one of my tools for my profession ( Lighting Auditor _LED sales specialist)


 I wouldn't make a good advocate if I wasn't sure of the results-

Good tools - products- resources get the best results.

Btw for anyone who has an interest , most libraries have

energy meters one can check out and return like books !

Comment by Bob Blanchette on June 2, 2012 at 9:35am

My fridge is off 2 hours a day and I have LED lighting in it

Do you have it on a timer? How did you decide which 2 hours to turn if off for? Have you used a kill-a-watt or similar device to verify actual energy savings? If so, what results did you find? On the LED lighting, is it something you put in or do you have a newer fridge where it's factory installed?

Comment by Dennis McCarthy on June 2, 2012 at 9:16am

Bob -

 The strategy of reduced energy use started as my college aged kids were either

at home ( HS) or  away at college - so that corresponds to the variable - sometimes it

might be 4,3,2 but the strategy was about the waste that most people put up with;


 The unplugging thing works - why would anyone want to send their money to

a utility while they sleep and aren't using the "valued product (kw or therms) -

My fridge is off 2 hours a day and I have LED lighting in it - At my house we

conserve energy as second nature. But definetely LED epitomize the idea of

energy sipping per the task that there is - LED use is the best practice for

the task of lighting - And I'll add I refer to the use of high quality SSL and

that should also include the use of lighting controls coupled with LED s


 My perfect world has what I do as commonplace - mundane we wouldn't even be discussing it !

Comment by Bob Blanchette on June 2, 2012 at 9:09am

What about LED's replacements for high output applications? I'm not finding anything over 1,000 lumens anywhere. I run the 32-Watt T8 48" Fluorescent Light Bulbs in my kitchen, laundry, bathrooms, and garage. For the bathrooms I replaced the 6 Edison "light bar" that was over the mirror with a 4' "kitchen fixture" mounted on it's side. Not sure about overall heating of the house but bulbs are cool to the touch. 2750 Lumens for 32W @ 86CRI. The 5000K color is perfect. Cost $4 per lamp, 2 lamps per fixture.

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