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Hi Scott, great article! First step in making our home appliance more energy efficient is always measuring how much energy your current household products are consuming. There are power extension blocks that can help measuring exactly that. It is sad that not many people try to measure the energy consumption of individual consumer products like furnace you mentioned. For example anyone can buy a PwrUSB power strip with a built in meter to see how many watts are being consumed by the attached electrical devices. I found there are many such products on Amazon alone selling for $50-$70 a piece. I think once we know the energy consumption patterns we can automate the process of turning those on and off during the time we actually use them.
I automated the the computer uptime of my office's file server by setting up few pwrusb extension blocks and programmed those to shutdown the PC at 5:15 PM everyday. Knowing that there are not a single PC running for nothing at night because my employees forgot to shut it down gives me peace of mind.
Trying to save precious energy and reduce our carbon footprint take will power, efforts and time. But there are so many products that can help us save energy in our everyday lives these days - there shouldn't be any excuse!
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