I’m lucky to have a friend who’s incredibly passionate about energy consumption. It makes me think about how my business and my family can reduce our draw. Since we have a baby in cloth diapers we start out pretty poorly — the washer, dryer, and dishwasher are run every day. We’ve made three recent changes to help our impact.

1. Replace the thermostat with an ecobee. I love our programmable thermostat. It makes it dead simple to keep the heat off or low when we don’t need it. Best of all, there’s an iPhone application so that when we’re out of the house we can remotely turn off the heat. It feels like the future when I can check the temperature of the house when I’m not inside it.

2. Go car-free. We were living “car light” for several years; we both used alternate forms of transportation to get to work. Portland’s public transportation is generally good and there are three Zipcars in walking distance from our house. We decided to sell the car and budget the money we would be spending on insurance for car rentals. Three months later, our son is much happier on the bus than strapped in his car seat, we don’t have the hassles of car ownership, and we get more fresh air! We’ve also successfully used Zipcar for a middle-of-the-night urgent care visit.

3. Sign up for energy offsets. Portland’s energy company, PGE, has a great program where you pay a bit extra to have your electricity offset with renewable energy. I like this program since it’s clear where the money is going. Most of the renewable source comes from wind. Who doesn’t love that? My laser was the motivator for signing up for this program. It doesn’t consume a huge amount of power, but it’s enough to make me conscious of it. I did some tests with a Kill A Watt with these results:

ULS 4.60 50W laser cutter

17W plugged in (“vampire” cost). The laser has a dedicated power outlet controlled by a switch, so I try to remember to turn it off.

86W turned on but not running

115W – 880W running – since it’s unusual for me to cut anything other than paper my actual usage is at the bottom of this scale. The few times I’ve cut acrylic or thick matboard I’ve had to crank up the power.

Quatro SPH-426 exhaust

107W – 128W. Again, this is normally at the lower end of the scale since I don’t need to run the exhaust at 100% when I’m just cutting paper. Since the exhaust is partway across the room I always turn it on and off via the dedicated wall switch, so I didn’t measure the vampire draw.

Up next? Insulating the garage and having a “blow test” done on the house.